April is National Distracted Driving Awareness and Enforcement Month.
In 2012, 3,328 were people killed and 421,000 injured nationwide in crashes involving distracted driving. In 2013, 18,761 traffic crashes included 54 fatalities as a result of distracted driving in Tennessee.
“When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving. That puts lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that,” said Kendell Poole, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.
Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, and is by far the most alarming distraction. Tennessee has a primary texting law that is enforced by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and state-wide law enforcement.
“The Tennessee Highway Patrol takes driving while distracted very seriously,” said Sgt. Bill Miller, public information officer. “One of THP’s main goals with our enforcement efforts is to change those reckless or dangerous driving habits that increase the chances of a crash occurring.”
According to Miller, troopers are looking for any unsafe action that takes away from the responsible and proper operation of a motor vehicle. Troopers patrol daily in the familiar black and cream patrol cars, as well as on police motorcycles. The THP also uses unmarked patrol vehicles to spot reckless behavior.
“When drivers text and drive, that creates a very dangerous, reckless situation and detecting those distracted drivers is definitely a priority of the THP,” said Miller. “If you are texting and driving, or doing anything that creates an unsafe situation on the road, then troopers are going to take the appropriate action. If you choose to drive drunk, reckless or distracted then you will lose. Don’t do it.”
The Governor’s Highway Safety Office urged drivers to make safe choices when driving on Tennessee roadways. Drivers should take a moment to pull over if they need to make a call, or send a text.
Drivers can also consider asking their passengers to make the call or text for them. In Tennessee, texting while driving is against the law and considered unsafe. For more information about distracted driving, please contact Megan Buell, 615-337-7685 or visit tntrafficsafety.org.