Tennessee drivers who text behind the wheel may soon find themselves getting pulled over after driving near semi-trucks on roadways throughout the state.
Per a report by WKRN.com, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will utilize undercover semi-trucks to identify drivers who text behind the wheel as part of their increased enforcement effort during Distracted Driving Awareness month, which kicks off on Saturday, April 1.
Troopers say that while drivers typically offer a variety of excuses for texting, including using their phones to check the time, look up directions, or make emergency texts, they say that none of those excuses are valid.
The THP also says that the campaign isn’t designed to write tickets. Instead, it’s about educating drivers about the dangers of texting while their vehicles are in motion. The THP’s Cookeville district has already investigated more than 20 fatal car accidents in 2017, and several of them involved distracted driving.
A report by the National Safety Council found that Tennessee recently led the nation in car accidents that involved drivers looking at their phones at the time of impact.
Texting and driving citations in Tennessee currently involve a $50 fine for first-time offenders.
Why is Texting and Driving So Dangerous?
In addition to focusing on risk factors for fatal accidents like speeding and driving under the influence, law enforcement agencies are also now dealing with another epidemic: distracted driving. While distracted driving comes in many forms, its most common form is sending or receiving text messages.
Police and state troopers nationwide have launched many enforcement and awareness campaigns to reduce this growing problem, but texting and driving-related accidents continue to increase.
The Centers for Disease Control says that distracted driving—particularly texting and driving—is dangerous for three reasons:
- It takes your eyes off the road.
Whether drivers are sending or receiving texts, they will inevitably take their eyes off the road and focus on their phones instead. Looking away from the roadway for even one second is enough to cause a serious accident, and vehicles going 55 mph can travel the length of a football field in the time it takes to send or read a text message. That’s enough time and distance for your vehicle to crash in other cars or exit the roadway.
- It takes your hands off the wheel.
Safe driving requires having a firm grip on the steering wheel. All vehicles require constant tiny adjustments in steering, even on straight roadways, to keep moving in a straight line. Many drivers make these small adjustments subconsciously. But when they take one or both hands off the wheel to send or read text messages, their vehicles may begin pulling to the left or right, putting them at risk of crashing into vehicles in adjacent lanes or driving into a ditch.
- It takes your mind off the task of driving.
Some drivers can send text messages without ever taking their eyes off the road. But experts say that the act of sending a text message itself is still highly distracting, even if drivers appear to be focused on the roadway. Sending and receiving texts can often take mental priority over other tasks, including driving. That means texting drivers who may appear to be focusing on the road are instead preoccupied with the content of the messages, significantly increasing their risk of crashes.
Studies show that texting while driving can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. And while DUI arrests, accidents, and citations are decreasing, texting while driving citations and accidents are increasing. That’s why it’s important for drivers to be aware of how dangerous all forms of distracted driving can be, including sending and receiving text messages.
Were you injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver? If so, you may be eligible to pursue a claim for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Nashville car accident lawyers at Matt Hardin Law can investigate the crash and determine if the other driver was distracted—and negligent—and present that evidence to the insurance company.
It’s our goal to help you maximize your compensation. Get in touch with us today. Call (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.