Authorities crack down on texting, driving in Wilson County - WKRN News 2

Authorities crack down on texting, driving in Wilson County

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WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. -

Authorities in Wilson County are cracking down on texting and driving.

Robert Bryan, Wilson County sheriff, told Nashville's News 2 Investigates distracted driving is a top priority for his road deputies.

"Because of the number of wrecks and to save lives, which is why we are out there looking for texting and driving," he explained.

Just last week in Mt. Juliet, the Director of Public Safety was injured in a crash.

Police reports indicated a 17-year-old driver, who was reportedly talking on a cell phone at the time, drove into the back of the Director of Public Safety's vehicle, causing a four-car pileup.

Despite it being illegal to text and drive Deputy Justin Smith told Nashville's News 2 Investigates they see distracted drivers on a daily basis.

"To me personally, I think texting and driving is worse than drinking and driving," driver Justin Smith said, adding, "You can tell [if a driver is on a cell phone]. Get behind someone they are either weaving like they are drunk, or slowing down and speeding up."

Deputy Smith told Nashville's News 2 Investigates he has seen lives change in a blink of an eye for a text message.

"I came across a teenager. She had a pretty serious head injury. She was bleeding and I asked her, ‘Sweetheart, what happened?' and she said, ‘My phone rang and I reached to grab it,'" he said.

According to a 2011 poll, a texting driver is 33% more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-texting driver.

 "The facts show it. The facts show they are causing wrecks across the nation," Bryan said.

According to officials, a motorist using a cell phone while driving, whether it is a handheld or hands-free delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08%.

"That is why we have tied it to our DUI enforcement and taking care of them both at the same time, which is why we will be out on the roads of Wilson County stopping it," Bryan said.

The sheriff added his department uses highway safety grants to help pay for over time the department may accrue working texting and driving enforcement.

According to the highway patrol, 57 people have died in 2013 on Tennessee roadways due to distracted driving.

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