By SARAH GRACE TAYLOR
The Spring Hill Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and state legislators are all working to curtail distracted driving in Spring Hill and across the state.
According to Spring Hill Police Lt. Justin Whitwell, efforts by the organizations will help put a stop to city’s biggest traffic issue.
“We have a lot of issues with distracted driving, non-stop, all across the city,” Whitwell said Thursday. “People using their phones is probably the main cause of traffic accidents in Spring Hill.”
According to Whitwell, phone-related violations are not only pervasive in the community, but some of the hardest for police to control.
“We sit too low in a regular patrol car to have a view on people using their phones,” Whitwell said. “That’s why things like the highway patrol initiative help.”
On Wednesday, Spring Hill Police and Tennessee Highway Patrol swarmed Highway 31 in town, strategically parked to spot people using their phones, in a statewide initiative to suppress distracted driving.
According to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Sept. 30, there have been 794 distracted driving car wrecks in Williamson County and 249 in Maury County year to date, making them the state’s fourth and 14th highest respectively.
While Tennessee legislators passed a bill in August making it illegal to use a cellphone in an active school zone, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, Whitwell believes it’s going to take more than that to end distracted driving.
“The bill goes into effect in January but we are working before and even after to make sure texting and driving stops all over town,” Whitwell said. “It happens all over town, constantly and people really have to be leary of their driving and especially texting…it’s illegal of course, but it’s also dangerous not to be aware of your surroundings.”
Spring Hill isn’t alone in its fight against texting and driving.
In 2016, six Williamson County students died in car wrecks, heightening the Williamson County Schools efforts to promote safe driving.
At the beginning of the school year, schools district introduced a new rule required a distracted driving course for students who wished to park on campus and a series of videos which included local high school security resource officers imploring students to drive safe.