KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) A study by the National Safety Council ranked Tennessee in first place for the number of fatal accidents involving cell phones, and according to Lieutenant Don Boshears, cell phones haven't been the only factor that has caused fatal accidents—distracted driving in general has become a dangerous habit for state drivers.
Distracted driving could be anything from texting, to changing the radio station, eating, applying makeup or anything that causes you to take your mind or eyes off the road to focus your attention somewhere else.
Compared to drunk driving and speeding accidents, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been seeing more cases of distracted driving, and they are cracking down on these dangerous practices.
"A distracted driver will act just like an impaired driver will," Boshears said. "They'll maybe weave a little bit in their lane, move from lane to lane, slow down, speed up."
This type of driving doesn't go unnoticed. Boshears said state troopers and officers are trained to spot distracted drivers, and they can even hand out citations. In Tennessee, it is legal to talk on the phone or eat while driving, but it is up to officers' discretion to decide if you are causing harm to the drivers around you.
"Tennessee has something called a Due Care law, and if you look it up, it states that no person shall operate a motor vehicle that causes property damage, injury and ultimately loss of life," Boshears said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol, along with TDOT and other government safety agencies, want drivers to protect themselves and others when in their vehicles. Boshears said that for him, it's not about handing out tickets, it's about truly educating drivers for their own safety.