Hanging over Middle Tennessee interstate highways, bright orange letters on TDOT's electronic message boards remind drivers that texting while driving is against the law.
Sgt. Mark Denton is with Metro Police's Traffic Division. He told Nashville's News 2 that officers take to the streets every night looking for distracted drivers.
“Distracted driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving,” said Sgt. Denton. “If you're not looking at the road it goes without saying that it's very dangerous.”
Statistics from the Tennessee Department of Safety show that traffic accidents involving cell phone usage have been on the rise statewide, from 578 in 2003 to 1,220 in 2012.
Traffic accidents involving cell phones in Davidson County have remained relatively steady over the same period, spiking at 90 in 2009.
Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 380 citations for texting while driving in 2012, more than doubling their 2010 and 2011 totals of 171 and 179 respectively.
David Booth commutes to work by bicycle. He told Nashville's News 2 he sees texting and driving every day from the bike lane.
“I'd appreciate it if a lot of people didn't text and drive,” said Booth. “It makes me nervous.”
Sgt. Denton told Nashville's News 2 that many drivers fail to appreciate the danger of texting behind the wheel.
“We know we shouldn't do it,” said Sgt. Denton. “I don't think we realize how dangerous it is and how many lives are taken every year by distracted driving or texting while driving.”
The fine for texting while driving is $50 plus court costs. For novice drivers, the fine can be as high as $100.