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THP begins initiative to combat drug-impaired drivers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - State trooper Joseph Massengill remembers hearing about a crash over his radio dispatch on Jun. 12, 1998.  

"There was a head-on crash, two vehicles and three people had died," Massengill said.  

When he got home, he got the phone call that changed his life 

The victims killed in the crash were his mother and father, Charlotte and Joseph Massengill.  

"You just have a numb feeling," he said.  

The driver of the other car was also killed. Police say she was high on Xanax. 

"It's a preventable crime," he said.  

It's a crime Tennessee Highway Patrol is trying to prevent through the program Operation Daydreamer.  

The initiative was started in Knoxville then became statewide in October. 

"They tend to have that daydreamer type of look on their face," said Lieutenant Bill Miller, public information officer for THP. "A dazed or confused look while they're driving."  

Troopers will work extra hours on the road during daylight hours from 7am to 7pm. Miller says during the day is when drug-impaired driving happens the most. 

"The typical DUI or impaired driver, they're no longer your Friday afternoon, Saturday night type of person who's out drinking and driving," Miller said.  

Since October, troopers have made 71 DUI arrests statewide under the initiative. 

"We want to combat and meet it head on," Miller said. "We want to stop it. We want to end it." 

Miller says the growing opioid crisis was the driving force behind the program. 

"Drugged driving, it is a big problem in Tennessee," Miller said.  

It's a problem Massengill has now dedicated his life to trying to solve. 

"My mission has become now, sharing my story," Massengill said. "I don't want my parents to die in vain." 


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