Distracted drivers will want to think twice about trying to get away with texting the next time they travel Interstate 75 in Tennessee. That goes for drivers not wearing seat belts or holding an opened can of beer also.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is taking advantage of the higher view afforded by a semi truck. THP purchased their own tractor-trailer to nab those transgressors of Tennessee highway laws that can better be seen from the truck’s height. The trooper in the semi passes the violator’s information to their fellow troopers in patrol cars. They in turn track down the identified cars and issue tickets.
An impressive 97 Tennessee state troopers hold a commercial driver’s license and are qualified to drive the truck.
It’s all part of Tennessee’s “Stay Alive on 75” campaign to increase safety awareness about highway crashes and what causes them. According to the Knox News, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that a high percentage of U.S. drivers admit to cell phone usage and texting while driving. This study prompted the state’s stricter enforcement of its highway laws.
The TSP says that because cell phone usage and texting have increasingly become such a part of our culture, its concern lies in the dangers of distracted driving not being taken seriously.
According to distraction.gov, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website for distracted driving, a text message is by far the most “alarming” distraction because it involves not only visual, but also manual and cognitive attention from the driver.
It cites the following statistics:
- In 2011, 3331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver; 387,000 were injured.
- 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 were distraction-related crashes.
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind at 55 mph.