THP tries new tactics to crack down on distracted driving - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

THP tries new tactics to crack down on distracted driving

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - As students go back to school, it means more teens on the roads. But new dismal numbers show how dangerous that can be. Wrecks are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds in the U.S.

The latest study from the Governor's Highway Safety Association attributes distracted driving of all kinds -- not just texting -- to those statistics.

And with the Labor Day Weekend approaching, both the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) are stepping up enforcement in a high-visibility campaign to help, among other things, combat distracted driving.

There's a statewide texting ban in effect in Tennessee. But the THP is looking not just for those typing away on their devices, but for all kinds of distracted driving.

"You can do so many other things while driving, you can read your Facebook page. It's not all about just texting -- it's distracted driving in general," said THP Lt. John Harmon.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. John Harmon knows the visual cues of distracted driving: frequent head nods, staring or gazing downwards, and swerving in and out of lanes. But it's not just smartphones that are the problem and it doesn't only involve teens.

"I stopped a gentleman last Thursday on Highway 153 who was reading while driving," he said.

Harmon said this Labor Day Weekend, the THP will have a trooper driving a semi truck around a certain part of the state to get a good visual on distracted drivers. Another trooper in the passenger seat will radio a distracted driver's license plate number and vehicle make/model to a nearby patrol car.

"We've got these new SUVs that are a little higher profile vehicle that can see into the lower profile vehicles and see you better," he said.

Captain Joe Hamby with GSP said they will also use a similar watch-from-above tactic with larger SUVs. The goal, they say, is not to target teens but anyone they find to be driving while distracted.

Some schools in Tennessee are also welcoming a Jeopardy-like game show into their schools called "ThinkFast Interactive." The game combines the state's teen driving safety rules with pop-culture and trivia to educate teens about safe driving.
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