State troopers crack down on distracted drivers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s 10 a.m. on a rainy day as a pair of state troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol look for distracted drivers. And it doesn’t take them long.

They soon stopped a blue truck. The driver inside was focused on his phone instead of the road.

“What were you doing on your phone? Texting or sending a message or what? Be honest with me now,” the trooper asked.

The driver told the officer he was scrolling through contact to make a call. The trooper gave him a talking to.

“Not only did you put yourself in danger. You put other folks in danger too.”

Minutes late, another driver was stopped for another problem. He told the trooper he was using his phone’s GPS.

“When you’re holding your phone up, looking down at the GPS – that’s distracted driving,” the trooper said.

Just like the other driver, this one got a ticket too.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is hoping traffic stops like this save lives.

There were more than 6,500 crashes caused by distracted driving on Shelby County highways in 2017. Seven of them were deadly.

Sadly, it’s a similar story this year.

“It’s hard for a lot of people today to put that phone down and say, ‘I need to drive. I need to get here or get there,” William Futtrell, with the THP, said.

Phones are the main offenders. But there not the only distractions.

“I’ve seen people brushing their teeth. I’ve seen people reading books,” Futtrell said. “I’ve seen people holding their child in their lap because they were crying.”

And yes, you can get pulled over for that.

Troopers pull people over all of the time. Especially during planned enforcement operations.

The bottom line is, don’t drive distracted.

“Distracted driving is killing people,” Futtrell said.

And if you absolutely have to send a text or make a call, authorities say just pull over.

The THP says tickets for distracted driving can run as high as $300.

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