Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Distracted driving a big cause of accident injuries and deaths

Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of vehicular accidents on the nation's roadways. In Tennessee, it is a problem that is reaching crisis levels as authorities report issuing far more texting and driving citations than ever before. Although the Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 114 texting and driving citations in 2014, authorities have already issued 995 texting citations in 2015. This is particularly important in light of statistics saying that since 2010 more than 8,000 people have suffered accident injuries, and 48 have died from car accidents in the state.

Distracted driving is a very difficult violation to catch, according to the THP. The officer must observe the person texting or using the cell phone in order to issue a citation. The agency has resorted to the use of unmarked vehicles as a major advantage in its beefed up effort to successfully catch offenders.

When a reporter went on a test ride on Interstate 40 in Knox County with a trooper, she observed a shocking number of drivers on the phone. The unmarked car obviously does not put drivers on alert to put down their phones. Troopers say that they also are getting a higher and better look at a driver's activities inside the car.

In one test program, the THP used a tractor trailer for a few days and had good results. A THP spokesperson indicated that whatever the agency does to deter distracted driving, other segments of society must do more to help get out the word that texting and driving is a truly dangerous activity. There is a $50 fine in Tennessee for texting and driving. Some lawmakers have tried to raise it to $250, but the measure has stalled in the legislature.

The thousands of accident injuries that occur in Tennessee should be motivation enough for the government to make an all-out effort to enforce the restrictions. Anyone who has had an experience with distracted driving or has been injured by a distracted driver knows the dangers first-hand. Although the offense is not as pernicious as drunk driving, the extent and level of human devastation can be just as horrific.

Source: wbir.com, "THP trying new ways to counter distracted driving", Kelsey Pape, July 25, 2015

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