THP using undercover semi to crack down on texting while driving

OVERTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Distracted Driving Awareness month kicks off Saturday and officers are working across the state to deter people from using their phone while driving their car.

Officers hear every excuse in the book, checking the time, looking at directions or even it is an emergency text. While some may be true, even that is against the law.

In the state of Tennessee, texting and driving is illegal.

“A lot of time you can look at where they’re looking as an indication, if they are looking away from the road,” said Lt. Jimmy Neal with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP is going undercover in a way to remind you. Troopers are using the state’s undercover semi, usually used to haul equipment for their traffic simulator, instead it is a perch to spot texters and other violators.

“We do better when we have the opportunity to slow down some.”

The campaign is about teaching you not just writing tickets.

“It is your life; you have the power to make those decisions,” said Captain R.C. Christian.

This year alone the Cookeville district has investigated more than 20 fatal car accidents and a hand full of those involved distracted driving.

According to the National Safety Council, the Volunteer State lead the country in 2010 when it comes to car accidents where someone was distracted by looking down at their phone.

Christian says it only takes a few seconds to change your life or someone else’s in a bad way.

“When you sit there and tell someone that their loved one has been killed in a crash; there is nothing that makes that any easier,” said Christian.

He hopes more campaigns like this across the state will remind people to simply put the phone down.

THP is planning more campaigns like this in other counties where there have been a spike in accidents caused by distracted driving.

Currently, if you are given a citation for texting and driving, the fine will cost you $50 plus court cost.

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