Metro police go undercover to crack down on distracted driving

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Metro Nashville Police officers went undercover on board a WeGo Transit purple bus on Monday to crack down on distracted driving.

This is the third year for the Operation Incognito safety campaign, a collaboration by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Metro Nashville Police Department, WeGo Public Transit, and other local agencies.

Our crew saw officers issue more than a dozen citations for distracted driving in the two-hour operation.

“Anything you could possibly imagine that you could see from my vantage point, we see it,” said MNPD Officer David Hazzard.

“Distracted driving has become most dangerous cause of traffic accidents in our state,” said Terry Ashe, Chief of Staff of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

The campaign is two-fold – part enforcement.

“We observe first, stop,” said Officer Hazzard. “I call in to motor officers on the street and they follow behind that vehicle and make that stop.”

The other part – education.

“Distracted driving is not a problem for law-enforcement alone, it is a cultural issue that affects us all,” said Colonel Dereck Stewart of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to the THSO, the number of citations during Operation Incognito increased from 35 in April of 2017 to 356 in April of 2018.

Colonel Stewart said the solution isn’t enforcement alone.

“Issuing citations alone will not correct or illuminate the problem of distracted driving,” he said. “We must all take responsibility by silencing our phones or placing them on do not disturb while driving. The risk is just too great and the consequences can be either life or death.”

Another important part of this campaign is high-risk construction zones.

This is National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, so it’s important for drivers to slow down and move over.

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