POLICE CRACKING DOWN ON DISTRACTED DRIVING

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is joining with law enforcement organizations nationwide to reduce the number of car accidents caused by distracted driving in April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The Tennessee governor’s office, highway patrol and other officials announced a new statewide campaign – Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving (news.tn.gov/node/13739) – earlier this month. According to the announcement, distracted driving in 2014 caused 20,916 crashes in Tennessee, which resulted in 47 fatalities.

In addition to radio Public Service Announcements, online advertisements and “a large social media push,” state officials promised innovative ways to catch and deter texting while driving and other distracted driving behavior.

News Channel 3 in Memphis spotlighted one innovative approach by the Highway Patrol for cracking down on distracted driving and other reckless behavior in Shelby County over Easter weekend. Patrol officers are manning a large truck – a “big rig” – equipped with cameras that give troopers “a bird’s eye view of drivers riding without seat belts, and even texting and e-mailing behind the wheel.”

Sgt. Chris Richardson told Channel 3 that nine motorcycle units from around the state would also be in Shelby County for the weekend along with regular Tennessee Highway Patrol units.

The focus is on Shelby County because more people die in car crashes there than any other county in Tennessee.

As of April 7, Shelby County had seen 24 traffic fatalities in 2015, more than any other county in the state, according to the TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security (www.tn.gov). Davidson County (Nashville) had 20 and Hamilton County (Chattanooga) and Knox (Knoxville) each had 11, and all other counties were in single digits.

Safety and Homeland Security says 5,907 distracted driving crashes in Shelby County occurred in 2014 – far more than any other county in Tennessee (www.tn.gov). By the end of February this year, there had already been 785 such crashes in the county.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic that affects all age groups,” Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said in the Distracted Driving Awareness Month news release. “Research shows that it is impossible for the brain to multitask. If you are texting, if you are eating, if you are entering an address into your GPS, you aren’t doing the one thing we need you to be doing: driving safely.”

Nationwide, 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving crashes, and approximately 424,000 people were injured in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Though there are many kinds of distracted driving behaviors, “because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction,” the U.S. DOT says.

Distracted Driving Awareness crackdowns extend across the country during April, from New Hampshire to Florida and California. In Las Vegas, Nevada, a “zero tolerance” policy has resulted in a woman receiving a $200 ticket for applying lip balm at a stoplight.

Also nationwide for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council is asking drivers to pledge to stop using their phones behind the wheel, share their decision on Facebook with the hashtag #CallsKill, and to tag the National Safety Council and three friends.

At the Law Offices of David E. Gordon, we do our part by helping innocent drivers and others who have been injured by distracted drivers. If you have been in a distracted driving accident that was not your fault, call us today to talk about the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses and other losses.