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Chattanooga Police start 'Special Traffic Operations Plan'

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The Chattanooga Police Department says it is determined to change the habits of area drivers. Officers are using accident data to increase patrols in problem areas.

This month, Chattanooga Police are starting the 'Special Traffic Operations Plan' or 'STOP.' The department says it is not about writing tickets but about saving lives.

"When you're driving 85 miles an hour down the highway with a phone in your hand, you're essentially holding a gun in your hand because you're going to kill somebody eventually if you keep driving that way," says Lt. David Gibb.

Chattanooga Police are serious about decreasing the number of traffic accidents in the city.
"Too many people are dying. We're at six this year. Six fatalities so far in two months, and three of them are either alcohol or drug related," says Gibb.

"More people die in Chattanooga from roadway violence than from criminal violence," says Chief Fred Fletcher.

Last year CPD worked 14,912 crashes, 2,036 with injuries.

Some of the worst intersections for crashes include Highway 153 and Northpoint Boulevard, Rossville Boulevard and I-24, Brainerd Road and Hickory Valley Road, and Lee Highway and Shallowford Road.
"It's time to slow down and stop driving the way you're driving," says Gibb.

Police say distracted driving is a top factor in crashes.
"It's very hard to gather that data because it's hard for us to prove. But on every fatality and a lot of serious injury crashes, we're now downloading the phones and seeing if they were texting at the time of the crash," says Gibb.

Police are trying to reach younger drivers. Some students took part in the 'Choices Matter Teen Maze' where emergency personnel responded to a mock crash.
"This is more up close and personal when you actually do it," says Areli Aguilar.

Hixson High Senior Areli Aguilar played the role of a victim in a DUI crash. She says it is very powerful seeing the dangers of bad driving habits.
"You can be driving and texting and you're like, 'Eh. See it happening to other people. That will never happen to me.' But it can honestly happen to anyone," says Aguilar.

"We want you to get there safely," says Gibb.

CPD says to expect increased enforcement in those trouble areas.
"The idea is not necessarily to write tickets. The goal is to slow people down to make them drive safe."

CPD has 15 officers on traffic patrol full time but this program will be using other patrol units to help with traffic enforcement.

Officers will be on the lookout for speeders, drivers following too closely, and distracted driving, among other offenses.

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