Distracted Drivers Are Dangerous

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's official. It's downright dangerous to drive in our state. Tennessee has the most distracted drivers by 10 times the national average.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the National Safety Council rank Tennessee as the worst place in the country to encounter distracted drivers, just because there are so many of them. More than California. More than New York.  I cannot help but witness this dozens of times each day. Drivers making left turns where none is allowed (Chapman Road exiting onto Shallowford). Crossing the double-yellow (everywhere). Speeding - "Making his debut at the Amnicola 500 this afternoon is Butch Machoman in his F-150, qualifying at 75 mph in a 45 MPH zone...."

Truckers constantly run 75 MPH through Chattanooga even though the posted maximum speed is 55 MPH anywhere in Hamilton County. To the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department: place radar-equipped vehicles at the approach of the eastbound upgrade at White Oak Mountain on eastbound I-24 going into Bradley County (The Wall). This should generate a massive influx of revenue with a minimum amount of effort. Most of the revenue stream would come from out-of-state without having to fleece locals to meet school budgets (or pay for Blue Rhinos). 

It's a dangerous endeavor to get around on four wheels, but it seems Chattanooga is not a singular blip on the Tennessee grid. And when you think about it, distracted driving is not just texting or cell phoning. It's smoking; programming the GPS while in motion; eating lunch on the move; applying make-up or electric shaving in the morning behind the wheel; disciplining the kids in the back seat while car pooling; making hand gestures to the car next to you informing them of your opinion of their driving. The list of self-imposed distractions is exhaustive and I truly wish traffic enforcement officers would take this newly established statistical singularity belonging to our state to the next level.  

Our City Council's answer to this problem is traffic cams. What a joke. It's little more than a revenue generator. To suggest it increases safety awareness is a pipe dream, at best.

The best way to decrease distracted driving is education. Instead of a fine for searching for that last McDonald's french fry or brushing away burning embers from the cancerette that dropped in your lap, send them to Distracted Driver's Remedial School. Of course I know Tennessee doesn't have one, but it should be a large portion of Remedial Driver Education. Just because a distracted driver doesn't cause an accident...this time...patrol officers should pull over anyone exhibiting distracted driving tendencies. These laws are already on the books and they are very much at the discretion of the attendant officer. Hands-free phones have proven to improve driver attentiveness only marginally. 

If Chattanooga, nay, Tennessee, wants safer thoroughfares, drop the nincompoop and laughable traffic cams which I personally believe to be unconstitutional, and get more patrol cars on the streets citing offending drivers. All too often I read and hear other people's comments: "Why are you hassling me about this when you should be out catching real crooks?!" If you're a distracted driver and you are culpable for causing a wreck, this is criminal behavior. If you kill someone while driving distracted, this should compound any vehicular homicide charge. It's time to get real about our responsibilities behind the wheel. If these new state-wide statistics don't shine a light where you would prefer they not, then you're the problem, not the solution.

 David D. Fihn

Technology In Education: The Future Is Now

Professional Educators of Tennessee are uncompromising advocates for more effective schools.  Because we now live in a technology-based world, we believe in the smart use of technology in the classroom to facilitate student engagement is no longer optional.   The use of online education and technology can also effectively address the age-old problem of having students ... (click for more)

Randy Fairbanks Will Make Rails To Trails A Priority

If you think the Rails to Trails is important to our community then please, join me in voting for Randy Fairbanks for the County Commission seat in District 1.   Randy is committed to revitalizing this important project and plans to make it a priority if elected.   Jamie LeMay Soddy Daisy (click for more)

Berke Names Fred Fletcher, Of Austin, Tex., New Chattanooga Police Chief

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that Fred Fletcher of Austin, Tex., is his pick for Chattanooga Chief of Police. With 20 years of experience in law enforcement, Mr. Fletcher has served in an executive, command, or supervisory role for 12 years.  As commander in Region III of the Austin Police Department, Mr. Fletcher spearheaded community initiatives including a drug market ... (click for more)

Child, 23 Months, Found Dead In Crib With Fentanyl Patch On Back; Death Ruled Homicide

A 23-month-old Chattanooga boy has been found dead in his crib with a Fentanyl patch on his back. The death of Demarcus Bryant at 7655 Borris Dr. last month was ruled a homicide. An autopsy report says he died from "Fentanyl patch placed by someone else." Chattanooga Police are investigating. No one has yet been charged. The child was found face down in his crib. ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Soccer Remains Undefeated, Clinches 7-A/AA Regular-Season Title

The Signal Mountain boys’ soccer team did more than just spoil Notre Dame’s senior night on Thursday. After Robert Schorr scored off Graham Eschmann’s throw-in in the opening minute, the Eagles went on to preserve their unbeaten record and secure their first-ever District 7-A/AA regular-season title with a 2-0 victory over the Irish. But even the very early lead wasn’t ... (click for more)

Ninth Inning Rally Gives Lookouts 5-4 Win Over Barons

The Lookouts trailed by a run entering the bottom of the ninth  -- headed for their third consecutive loss. Chattanooga rallied for two runs to pull the game out, 5-4.  Details to follow. (click for more)