Troopers work to stop distracted driving

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Highway Patrol kicked off its "Thumbs Down" campaign with sheriff's deputies and police officers boarding a bus at the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

"We're out here looking for distracted drivers," THP Sergeant Chris Richardson said.

The tour went around the Interstate 240 loop Monday morning. Law enforcement officials were inside the bus looking for distracted drivers out on the road.

It only took a few minutes before troopers caught a woman behind the wheel not focusing on the road because she was texting. Law enforcement then radioed a patrol car which immediately pulled her over and issued her a $50 ticket.

"Anything that takes your eyes off the road," Richardson said. "Your hands off your wheel or your mind off driving is a distraction."

That driver was not alone. Last year the Tennessee Highway Patrol wrote more than 13,500 tickets for texting and driving.

In this case, the driver walked away with only a ticket. In more than 1,000 instances last year in Tennessee, people were killed because of distracted driving. That was the most since 2008.

Legislators are doing all they can to reduce those numbers. They've proposed several new laws. One would allow law enforcement officials to scan the driver's electronic device if a serious injury or death occurred.

"The thing is if they have a crash where someone else is injured or someone else's life is lost how could you go on?" Richardson said.

This is the first year Tennessee has had the distracted driving enforcement bus tour.

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