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

Capitol Hill Week Senate And House Republicans

Senate Committees worked diligently this week, wrapping up budget hearings for various agencies and departments of state government and moving a number of important bills to the Senate floor for final action. The budget will be a key area of focus for the General Assembly during the final weeks of legislative action, as Governor Bill Haslam is expected to deliver his supplemental ... (click for more)

Rep. Deffenbaugh: Week 13 Georgia Legislative Report

On Thursday, March 15, my House colleagues and I completed Legislative Day 35 and our tenth week of the 2018 legislative session, and we now only have five working days remaining until Legislative Day 40, or sine die. Legislative Day 40 is the last day the House will take up business for the year, and since we only have a few days left to wrap up our legislative work, this week ... (click for more)

Young Boy Struck By Car On South Beech Street; Hit And Run Driver Sought

A young boy was hit by a car on South Beech Street on Saturday. He was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Police said the car left the scene. Officers were looking for two men in a red or orange Dodge Challenger. (click for more)

Clark D. Nolan, Accused Of Imprisoning And Assaulting Wife, Found Competent To Stand Trial

A Graysville, Tn., man who allegedly strangled, assaulted and threatened to kill his wife while holding her prisoner in their home is competent to stand trial, according to two forensic evaluators. Psychologist Robert W. Brown Jr. and forensic coordinator Todd Wiggins reported to Sequatchie County General Sessions Court that they evaluated Clark Dean Nolan on charges of aggravated ... (click for more)

Vols Suffer Heartbreaking Loss To Loyola, 63-62

No. 3 seed Tennessee's season came to an end on Saturday night as the Vols suffered a heartbreaking loss to 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago, 63-62, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.   The Vols (26-9) made one last push at the end of the game, using an 8-0 run to take a 62-61 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the game, capped off by a three-point play from SEC Player ... (click for more)

UTC's Carr Run at NCAAs Ends in the Blood Round

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Bryce Carr's run at the NCAA Championships ended tonight in the blood round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  Carr fell to Cornell's Max Dean in the final match of his career. Carr was the aggressor early, with two takedowns in the first period.  He opened up a 4-2 lead after the first period, but could not put ... (click for more)