Dear Sheriff Jim Hammond and Chief of Police Bobby Dodd,
Texting while driving has become an epidemic in Chattanooga as well as the rest of the country.
My question is this. Why do you have DUI task forces and yet do little to nothing about texting while driving, whether moving or sitting at a red light? It has been proven that texting drivers are more of a danger on our roads than drunk drivers. In addition, there is a much greater percentage of people texting than driving drunk. Everyone is doing it, especially young people under the age of 30 who can't drive anyway. Where are the texting task forces? Where is the crack down? The fact is they are as easy or easier to spot as a drunk driver and it is illegal in the state of Tennessee to text while driving. I assume that like a drunk driver, if the key is in the ignition they should not be texting whether moving or sitting still.
Riding a motorcycle every day makes me much more aware of what's going on around me than your average automobile driver. Motorcycle riders have to be aware to stay alive and have longevity, especially in this age of ultra distracted drivers. I have had people screeching to a stop behind me while I'm stopped at a light or stop sign, swerving out of their lane into mine, or just sitting there like a dunce when the light turns green. All texters. You can spot them anywhere, head down with eyes off the road.
While riding Sunday, I was passed by two young women doing at least 75 mph with their phones perched on the top of their steering wheels and their eyes looking down. The ironic part is that we had just passed under a digital sign that said "Don't text while driving." Of course, they didn't see the sign, because they were texting.
On Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. I passed the wreck on I-59 where a young couple was killed after running their car completely under a semi truck trailer. It was definitely a case of distracted driving, but by what we will never know. How else could this happen on a perfectly clear day with 100 percent visibility.
Why not be the first sheriff and chief of police in the country to take this deadly matter seriously and actively take steps to stop it? I pray that it doesn't take the death of one of your family members or a close friend to finally get you both to take this matter seriously. I also pray that it is not me or one of my family members or friends. I wish that no one else would have to die because of these devices and their use while behind the wheel or a car, truck, or even motorcycle. It's up to you, our leaders, to try to do something to stop it.
When my teenager gets his drivers license there will be an anti texting/phone device installed on the car he is driving. For less than $100 you can make sure that their phone will not work as long as the car is moving. If they remove the device it will send an email alert to the parent. Parents, how much is your kid's life worth?
P.S. - I've even seen officers texting while driving.
Ronnie "Rock" Land
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For now, it seems that DUI is much more punishable and has more statistics of causing highway deaths than texting while driving. The laws have not caught up with the risk.
You can easily check Tennessee laws on the violations here: http://www.drivinglaws.org/tenn.php
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Ronnie Land makes a good argument in his open letter to our local sheriffs regarding texting while driving. Ronnie, you are absolutely correct, and perhaps it is the motorcyclists, such as ourselves, who are more cognizant of the problem. Get hit in a car while texting and a fender gets bent. Getting hit on a bike by Dexter Texter means death.
Half of those phones are capable of hands free operation, but Dexter refuses to do that. Dexter also refuses to eat at a table opting for the gourmet surrounds of his 9-year-old Neon. Last month at the car wash, the attendant asked Dexter where he could get some french fry air freshener. Dexter also smokes cigarettes, and during this cold weather, Dexter smokes with the windows up. Images are vague because of the smoke and he finds difficulty seeing out the windshield with smoke-burned eyes but as luck would have it his next contact is on speed dial.
Dexter ought to be given some sort of award being able to locomote while smoking, eating, talking and texting. Dexter's wife, Sexier Texter, however, taught Dexter Texter everything he knows about driving because she can do it all and carpool with seven kids in the DeLorean with Pop Rocks pelting every interior surface while hip-hop plays so loud the mini-van's sheet metal pulses with each beat from the sub-woofers.
Mr. Land, you only touched the tip of the iceberg. There are many more activities accomplished behind the wheel that are more distracting that texting. Law enforcement officers are reticent to enforce a law they, themselves, are guilty of ignoring. Legislators won't "get tough" with Dexter and Sexier because they are as guilty as everyone else. Unless law enforcement pulls up their panties and gets serious about distracted driving (themselves and anyone else) you and I will need to maintain acute situational awareness and extremely defensive driving to stay alive on two wheels.
David D. Fihn, Sr.
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As per Rock Land,
Mr. Ladd, the only reason that more people and enumerated for crashing while driving is alcohol is relatively easy to detect and texting is not. State Representative Vince Dean explained to me why we do not need a law against it. Any state trooper can stop and ticket someone for "distracted" driving. As Mr. Fihn mentioned, it could be for eating or smoking.
Any city or county can enact this law if it is not on their books already. But it is a slippery slope. Is yelling at my wife or singing with the radio or cursing a fellow highway traveler "distracted driving"?
My mobile has voice to text and text to voice with a few presses of a icon; but I pull over to do even that in traffic.