The Tennessee Highway Patrol is stepping up enforcement when it comes to texting and driving by utilizing their tractor-trailer.
WATE-TV reported THP is just now beginning to use the semi in Knoxville, but it has been used in other areas across the state.
“It's marked up just like a highway patrol vehicle. It's got lights. It's got sirens,” said Sgt. Randall Martin.
Officers drive the tractor-trailer so they can better scope out violators who are contributing to what they call a deadly problem.
Lt. Don Boshears said motorists don't regard the semi as a normal patrol car, so they don't hesitate to make traffic violations.
“They don't really pay attention to the truck,” he explained.
The truck provides a vantage point for officers.
“You can actually look down in the vehicle and see what's going on inside the vehicle,” said Boshears.
As WATE 6 News rode along with THP officers, they reported it merely took minutes to ticket a number of texters.
When they spot someone texting, troopers radio other officers down the road in patrol cars to pull them over.
The program is a way to get drivers' attention and encourage them to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones.
“It puts awareness back where it belongs, and that's on the road. Not on your cell phone,” said Martin. “If you're not paying attention, you can't see that vehicle changing lanes. You can't see that vehicle pulling out in front of you. You can't see traffic stopped in front of you so you have no time to react.”
WATE also reported THP hopes the program, which has been successful in various parts of the state, cuts down on texting and driving in the Knoxville area as well.
*WATE 6 News contributed to this report.
- March 23, 2013: Tennessee Highway Patrol using semi-trucks