THP launches initiative to fight distracted driving

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Multiple law enforcement agencies hit the Tri-Cities streets Thursday looking for distracted drivers from a different angle.

Officers rode in a Tennessee Highway Patrol bus to look down into cars on the interstate.

April is distracted driving awareness month, so THP and the Tennessee Highway Safety Office partnered with several local agencies to crack down on distracted driving.

“It’s for the public to understand that we’re serious about catching people that are driving distracted,” said Lt. Rick Garrison with THP.

It is Tennessee’s first statewide distracted driving enforcement bus tour.

“Last year there were 30 fatalities statewide that were caused by distracted driving. So far this year in 2017 we have already had seven fatalities attributed to a distracted driver,” said Sgt. Noah Click with THP.

Thursday some officers boarded the bus to look down into cars driving by. They radioed in to other officers and troopers, who pulled over the alleged violators.

“This bus is a little more discreet than we are in a patrol car, and it’s more difficult for us to see those types of violations in a regular police car than it is in this bus,” said Sgt. Jim Tallmadge with the Johnson City Police Department.

According to THP, officers issued 50 citations in their two hour patrol period Wednesday. Twenty-eight of those were seatbelt violations and four for texting while driving.

“One of the major causes of crashes now in statewide is distracted driving,” Click said. “We need to make everyone aware that it’s an issue and that we’re here to attack that issue head on and save lives.”

The statewide distracted driving enforcement bus tour also made stops in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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