Say "Thumbs Down" to Texting & Driving during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 07, 2015 | 05:44am

Tennessee – April is designated as national Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and representatives from Coca Cola Bottling Company Consolidated joined today to share a unified message: Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving.

Among those speaking at the press event included Larissa Redmond, whose fiancé Clifton was killed by a distracted driver in 2012. "After making the decision to donate his organs, we met with the police,” said Larissa. “They explained that the young lady who hit Clifton had cut across five lanes of traffic and hit his car head on. The force of that crash turned his car around and he was hit again by a daycare bus driver.  The young lady was texting, the bus driver was talking on the phone, and my Clifton was dead. Of all the questions I have about that day, the question of “Why?” still reigns supreme."

Following Clifton’s death, Redmond founded the Collegiate Life Investment Foundation to educate the high school and collegiate population about the dangers of distracted driving.

“It is our job to impact the behavioral side of traffic safety in Tennessee,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole. “We are excited to announce our new campaign – Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving. We will be doing radio PSAs, online advertisements and a large social media push throughout the month of April to increase education and awareness throughout the state. For drivers to make good decisions, they need to be informed about the dangers of bad decisions.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation conducted a distracted driving pledge sign-up with its employees during the event. “Distracted driving is an epidemic that affects all age groups,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer. “Research shows that it is impossible for the brain to multitask. If you are texting, if you are eating, if you are entering an address into your GPS, you aren’t doing the one thing we need you to be doing: driving safely.”

Grant Kerr, Risk Control Manager for Coca Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, attended the event to announce their company’s involvement in the campaign. “Our employees are our family, and so many of them spend the majority of their time on the road. We reached out to the Governor’s Highway Safety Office a few months ago to discuss different ways we could communicate safety messages. This is the first of many campaigns we will be taking part in to increase the safety of our staff.”

According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were 20,916 crashes involving a distracted driver in 2014 that resulted in forty-seven fatalities.

“Texting and driving is against the law in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “We are committed to enforcing this law to the full extent. You might think you are hiding your actions from us, but we are continually coming up with innovative ways to catch and deter this behavior. It is unacceptable for a family in Tennessee to experience the loss of a loved one because someone made the choice to read or respond to a text message while driving.”



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