Troopers using big rig to find texting drivers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)--If you've been texting and driving and not getting caught, watch out. Tennessee troopers are riding high watching and cracking down on distracted drivers.

Trooper Gordon Roberts usually rides behind his handlebars or at least a smaller steering wheel. Lt. John Harmon says, "The colonel has asked us to come up with new and innovative ways to educate the public."

So Trooper Roberts drives the THP semi. It was seized in a drug bust ten years ago, but now used to bust another set of criminals.
Trooper Roberts says, "Right there! There's one texting right there!"

As the car comes up beside the tractor trailer, all the driver has to do is glance out the window to see you texting and driving. After just 5 minutes, a driver tapping on her phone. Roberts says, "That gray Nissan Altima behind the silver suv! She's texting!"

Roberts radioed the trooper behind him who pulled the car over.
She'll get a ticket. This initiative started in Chattanooga three months ago, as part of the "Stay Alive on 75" campaign. Lt. John Harmon says, "This program has mushroomed. It is really a good program. We're getting a lot of good feedback."

Trooper Roberts says, 'There's a texter right! There! See how he's weaving."

A few minutes later, a guy in his jeep texting-- and weaving on the road. It's not just texting. Trooper Roberts sees all kinds of things out his window. Roberts says, "You'll see open containers. Seatbelts. You can see seatbelt violations, but a lot of aggressive driving."

It's a vantage point that shows a lot, and one that's never been used here before. Lt. John Harmon says, "The THP is going to use every resource to keep you and your family safe."

That's why they're bringing it to other cities. Knoxville's next!

Trooper Roberts is one of 97 others licensed to drive that big rig.
"Stay Alive 75" will continue through the summer. It will be on the roads two days a month. We'll ride along when the truck hits the road in Knoxville and show you what they find.

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