THP monitors vehicle safety in 2 programs
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 29, 2013 | 742 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Driver awareness
TENNESSEE HIGHWAY PATROL has been coupling programs to raise driver awareness regarding safety while traveling the Interstate 75 system. “Operation Stop” yielded multiple violations for some truckers as thousands passed through a checkpoint set up in Bradley County. “Stay Alive — on Interstate 75” is also under way. A THP big rig is continuing to travel the interstate and troopers are looking for distracted drivers. Lt. John Harmon said the efforts in Southeast Tennessee and across the state have been effective. Banner photo, GREG KAYLOR
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Checkpoints for safety are one of the many tools used by Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Troopers are in full swing with the “Operation Stop” and “Stay Alive — on Interstate 75” campaigns.

“This is a part of our ‘Stay Alive — on Interstate 75’ campaign,” Lt. John Harmon explained.

Several thousand trucks were checked at a local rest area this week.

Big rigs were monitored as they entered the area. An infrared camera system detected heating of brakes.

According to trooper Robert Hadden, who could zoom the high-tech system into the truck’s and trailer’s wheels, if they didn’t glow on his screen, they weren’t working.

This was one of the many safety checks made during Operation Stop, according to Lt. Carey Hixon.

“Basically, Safety Checkpoints help us to make sure commercial vehicles traveling on Interstate 75 are keeping our Tennessee roadways safe,” Hixon said.

“We are very pleased with the numbers. Some of the rigs were placed out of service during this 12-hour operation,” he said.

“Stop” means, “Strategic Transportation Observation and Prevention.”

Jurisdictions across the state are taking part in both operations in order to raise driver awareness of commercial vehicles, as well as passenger vehicles.

The “No-Zone” 18-wheeler was introduced to the Chattanooga district two weeks ago.

The truck is marked in THP colors and completed with emergency lighting. The trailer is finished with “No Zone” decals … a warning tool for motorists who may drive in the “blind” spots of the truckers as well as a tool to catch distracted drivers.

Within minutes of the big rig getting on I-75 and heading northbound, a THP trooper who helps the agency rig’s driver observed an unwary texter.

The driver was pulled over by a marked THP unit and cited for the activity, which is illegal in Tennessee, Harmon said.

Harmon said the rig and Operation Stop were introduced to Knoxville drivers Thursday.

“Within minutes, three vehicles were pulled over after the drivers were observed texting. One driver had three cellphones and a small computer in his lap,” Harmon said.

Distracted driving has been attributed as a factor in most of the traffic-related fatalities in 2012, in Bradley County.

“Driver inattention and speed are the dynamics which have changed during the past two years,” said Capt. W.G. Campbell of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

Coincidentally, a significant rise in the crashes which took lives in 2012, occurred inside the city limits.

The BCSO Lifesaver campaign began in late 2011.

Twenty-four people died on Bradley County roadways, city streets and the interstate.

Law enforcement continues to work together to curb driving offenses and make sure drivers and their passengers are “buckled up for safety,” according to Harmon.

THP officials have announced Drivers and Sobriety Checkpoints in Bradley and Polk counties this weekend.

“So be aware … be watchful,” Harmon said.