The East Ridge Police Department is partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office to promote “Hands Free Tennessee” during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Throughout the month of April, ERPD will increase education and enforcement to reduce distracted-driving crashes, injuries and fatalities.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 81 crashes in East Ridge involving distracted drivers resulting in 17 injuries and thousands of dollars in property damage.
“Distracted driving continues to be a factor in traffic crashes in spite of the information and Public Service Announcements available to the public”, Police Chief Stan Allen stated. “The department will step up enforcement during this campaign with saturations patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles."
Officials said, "Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in activities that divert the driver’s attention away from the road. There are three forms of distracted driving: cognitive, visual, and manual. Cell phone use while driving is extremely dangerous because it involves all three forms of distracted driving.
1. Cognitive distraction occurs when the driver’s mind is not focused on driving. Examples include talking to passengers in the vehicle, thinking about stressful issues, or listening to loud music.
2. Visual distraction occurs when the driver is not focused on looking at the road ahead. Examples include looking for items around the vehicle, looking down at a GPS device, or watching a movie/video on a mobile phone.
3. Manual distraction occurs when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel for any reason. Examples include eating food or drinking beverages, reaching backwards, or handling a mobile device."
According to Public Chapter No. 412, it is illegal for a driver to:
(a) hold a cell phone or mobile device with any part of their body,
(b) write, send or read any text-based communication,
(c) reach for a cell phone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,
(d) watch a video or movie on a cell phone or mobile device, and
(e) record or broadcast video on a cell phone or mobile device.
Here are a few tips to help you plan ahead, so you remain focused and alert while driving.
1. Put your mobile phone away.
Pull over if you need to make a phone call or send a text message. Never use a mobile device while driving. A hands-free device is safer to use, but the driver should still exercise caution and remain focused on the road.
2. Set your GPS in advance.
Program your GPS navigation before you leave the driveway. If you need to adjust your GPS, then pull over. Never operate GPS navigation while driving.
3. Safely secure child passengers and pets.
Make sure all passengers are properly secured before you begin driving. If child passengers or pets become disruptive within the vehicle, then pull over to address the disruptions.
4. Eat beforehand.
Make time in your schedule to eat before your trip. Never eat behind the wheel.
For more information, visit www.HandsFreeTN.com.