THP citations in Shelby County have doubled since 2014

THP: Twice as many tickets in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers are writing twice as many tickets in Shelby County than they were just a few years ago, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

THP attributed the increase to distracted drivers.

In 2014, troopers issued 5,045 tickets in Shelby County.

Last year, they issued 10,974 tickets.

"When law enforcement officers stop you, it's not because they're trying to be mean and ruin your day, give you a citation. They're just trying to help save your life," said Karla Lipford, with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

THSO's numbers show distracted driving crashes in Shelby County jumped every year over the past decade, except for a slight dip in 2013.

Last year, 7,715 distracted driving crashes occurred in Shelby County. So far this year, there have been at least 1,848 crashes reported.

"Our main focus is education. If you can educate people you can change their mind about the dangers," said Lipford.

Larissa Redmond Thompson lost her fiance, 23-year-old Clifton Gibbs, to a distracted driver in 2012.

"He had this full life ahead of him," said Thompson. "His life was taken because of a single text message."

She created a foundation, the Collegiate Life Investment Foundation (C.L.I.F.), which works to reduce distracted driving.

"We thought the best way to honor Clifton's life was to keep other families and friends and loved ones from experiencing this pain that we had seven years ago," Thompson said.

She said most people know distracted driving is wrong.

“But they don’t want to stop using it. They want others to stop doing it,” she said.

Thompson applauds law enforcement's crack down on distracted drivers.

She also supported a bill (HB 164) that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law that allows police to pull over drivers who hold their cell phones for any reason while they're driving.

"It's just not worth it," she said. "It's just not worth your life, someone else's life, the guilt you may feel if you kill someone."

The law goes into effect in July.

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