During 2014, distracted driving accounted for 10% of all vehicle-related fatalities in the United States. In Shelby County, Tennessee, alone, distracted driving has reached record highs: leading to more than 5,000 vehicle accidents this year.
Tennessee Highway Patrol has come up with two new ways of hopefully preventing the onslaught of distracted driving, which directly puts thousands of people at risk.
According to Fox 13, one way the THP is fighting the distracted driving epidemic is by using an unmarked semi-truck to patrol the road.
“From this angle, we can see down into the vehicle and see exactly what’s going on,” said Sgt. Chris Richardson.
Richardson’s entire day now consists of riding in the passenger seat of an unassuming semi-truck in hopes of catching drivers who are not focused on driving.
Richardson radios to THP troopers when he sees someone on their phone. Within seconds, they’re pulled over.
“We tend to get a lot of excuses,” said Lt. William Futrell. “People won’t admit to texting and driving because they know that it’s against the law.”
Nashville Public Radio reports that the THP is doing more than just riding around in anti-distracted driving semis.
Although texting and driving was outlawed in 2009, the THP is now leading a campaign to completely eradicate the dangerous driving activity. Instead of the $50 fine that troopers have been handing out for years, the THP is now dishing out tickets of up to $300.
“If you can swear and affirm that the actions that they were exhibiting was unsafe operation of a vehicle because of what they were doing inside their vehicle, then by all means [they can be issued] a citation for fall to exercise due care,” said Lt. Bill Miller.
Since the start of 2016, roughly 8,500 “due care” tickets have been handed out by the highway patrol, which is already more than all of 2015 and wholly five times more than the amount of driving tickets written this year.