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

EPA Overreach Jeopardizes Jobs And Increases Energy Prices

The latest round of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency are difficult to rationalize. The EPA’s planned greenhouse gas rules will jeopardize low-cost electricity relied upon by local governments, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers – a regulation whose impact will be felt by much more than just energy producers and utility companies – but throughout the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Lamenting ‘The Last Day’

I wasn’t at Fenway Park yesterday but I know what happened. Yes, it was No. 2’s last game of a great career, and more Yankees fans than usual were packed into Boston’s holy ground to see Derek Jeter’s swan song. But what I know happened has become an almost sacred rite, when towards the final out of the last game of the season Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione will read a ... (click for more)

Witnesses In 17-Year-Old Murder Case Say They Saw Hollingsworth Threaten, Mistreat Wife

Two potential witnesses in a 17-year-old murder testified Monday that they saw Adolphus Lebron Hollingsworth threaten and mistreat his wife Vicky before she disappeared in 1997. Hollingsworth, who is under $200,000 bond, is set for trial on Nov. 4. Orville Hughes said he lived around the corner from Vicky when he was on Chamberlain Avenue and they were on Duncan Avenue. ... (click for more)

Family Makes Treasure Trove Of Early Chattanooga Photographs Available For Book; Stokes Collection Has Been Passed Down To Descendants

A treasure trove of Chattanooga photographs that have been passed down in the Stokes family for generations has now been assembled in an upcoming book. Chattanooga Around The Turn Of The Century: The Remarkable Stokes Collection will be published by Chattanoogan.com. Pre-orders are now being taken for the book, which includes over 700 photos on large-size pages. Publisher ... (click for more)

Baylor Impressive In Volleyball Sweep Of Signal Mountain

Baylor coach Sarah Lail paused briefly before saying that she's seen her Lady Red Raider volleyball team play better than they did on Monday, but they did just about everything right as they celebrated Senior Night with an impressive 3-0 victory over the Signal Mountain Lady Eagles. It was a meeting of two of the top three teams in Chattanooga -- too bad that Ooltewah couldn't ... (click for more)

Basketball, Wrestling Mocs Host Ball N' Brawl

It’s party time in the Scenic City. Chattanooga’s team is sending some of its best to close down 3rd Street on Friday, October 10, for Ball N’ Brawl. This inaugural event features the men’s and women’s basketball programs along with the wrestling team. “This was an idea coaches Heath Eslinger (wrestling) and Will Wade (men’s basketball) came up with,” Director of Marketing and ... (click for more)