Community leaders participate in “Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving” awareness campaign

by | May 17, 2018 7:14 am

At the recent career day at White County Middle School, community members joined together for a group photo to participate in the #ThumbsDownTN awareness campaign. (Photo by WENDY STEELE)

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are joining together to share a unified message, “Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving,” and community members recently showed their support for the statewide awareness campaign.

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office began asking people to use their social media presence to promote their distaste for texting and driving. The public is encouraged to participate by taking a selfie, giving the thumbs down sign, and posting it using #ThumbsDownTN.

At the recent career day at White County Middle School, community members representing a wide range of businesses and agencies joined together for a group photo to participate in the #ThumbsDownTN awareness campaign.

“We all see people texting while driving each day,” stated Amanda Brown, Tennessee Highway Safety Office public information officer. “Everyone can agree that it is a dangerous behavior, but, for most people, that knowledge alone isn’t stopping them. So take some time to let your friends, family, and co-workers know how you feel about it (by participating in the social media awareness campaign).”

Distracted driving is not just a teen problem – it is a Tennessee problem, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. State analysis states that distracted driving crashes in Tennessee show no particular age group is more problematic than the other when it comes to driving while distracted.    Additionally, state officials stated that distracted driving is not just texting. It is any form of driver inattention; this can include eating, grooming, talking to passengers, and manipulating devices like radios or GPS systems.

However, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is potentially the most dangerous distraction.

Preliminary data has stated that, in 2015, Tennessee experienced its highest number of known distracted driving crashes, at 22,964. These crashes resulted in the death of 51 people.

Each day, 25 individuals, on average, are injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, according to the THP. Nearly 12 percent of all crashes, in Tennessee, last year were caused by someone who was driving distracted.

“Messaging of any kind while driving is against the law, in Tennessee,” said David Purkey, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner. “It is punishable by, at minimum, a 50-dollar fine plus court costs. The Tennessee Highway Patrol continually focuses on innovative ways to counter this dangerous behavior. We are committed to enforcing this law to the fullest extent in order to prevent deaths and crashes on our roads.”

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