THP urging drivers to stay off phone

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is telling drivers to put down their phones and drive. That’s after a serious accident in Bradley County Tuesday.

Distracted driving has already caused close to 12,000 crashes in the state of Tennessee this year.

“It [texting while driving] irritates me. It’s terrible and it’s dangerous,” Cleveland resident Gary Davis said.

Distracted driving crashes have increased 300 percent since 2008 in Hamilton and Bradley counties, according to the state’s Department of Safety.

Texting caused another wreck off Highway 64 Tuesday night just outside of Cleveland.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says the driver of the black car was texting, crossed the center lane, and hit the gray car head on.

Four people were injured in the crash.

“We’ve seen just every year the number grows more and more,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Alan Bailey said. “And a lot of people want to blame it on the younger people texting. But when I got to schools and talk, I ask them how many of them have seen their parents text and drive. Just about 95 percent of them will raise their hand. So it’s not just a young people problem. It’s a society problem.”

Tennessee state law prohibits the use of a mobile device to write or read a text message. However, THP says distracted driving involves more than just texting.

“Due care means that you have to pay attention to what you’re doing while driving. And use due care while driving a vehicle,” Bailey explained. “So that would include the internet, looking for a phone number on the phone. So Highway Patrol writes more due care citations than they do texting and driving.”

THP is urging drivers to leave the phone alone and give full attention to the road — because it only takes one distracted second to cause a wreck.

“I know that I need to keep all my attention on the road because it’s really scary to look up from even just glancing down. It doesn’t take but a second for something unexpected to happen and it’s pretty scary,” Cleveland resident Jill Davis said.

Even just looking down to check an alert on your phone takes three to five seconds. Double yellow lines are only 12 inches across. Sergeant Bailey says those three seconds where your eyes are off the road could easily cause you to cross that center line.

Categories: Bradley County, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News

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