BCSO working in schools with young drivers
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Apr 23, 2013 | 700 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEPUTY NATHAN ALY of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit explains to students at Cleveland High School the importance of being alert and paying attention while driving. BCSO and other area law enforcement agencies are ramping up safety education and enforcement as summer approaches.
DEPUTY NATHAN ALY of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit explains to students at Cleveland High School the importance of being alert and paying attention while driving. BCSO and other area law enforcement agencies are ramping up safety education and enforcement as summer approaches.
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All area law enforcement agencies have been trying to strongly educate the driving public about the dangers of distracted driving and other risky behavior behind the wheel. Bradley County Sheriff’s Office has taken it to the local schools to teach up-and-coming drivers who will soon obtain, or already have, their licenses to drive.

Tennessee Highway Patrol has also been using a variety of tools to ensure traffic safety along the interstates and highway systems. Employing the “No Zone” 18-wheel rig, officials have been watching for texting or distracted driving and other offenses which drivers may commit.

“Continuing an emphasis on reducing the number of lives lost in traffic crashes, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is ramping up its Lifesaver traffic safety campaign for the spring and summer months,” said Capt. W.G. Campbell of BCSO.

Last year, 24 people died on Bradley County roads from injuries they received in vehicle crashes. That broke a previous high of 23 fatal traffic-related crashes that occurred in 2002.

“With the onset of warmer temperatures and additional hours of daylight, more activities are held, leading to congestion on streets and highways that are already busy with afternoon and evening traffic. Throughout the summer, the BCSO will engage a combination of education and enforcement to get the message across that careless driving is not acceptable,” Campbell said.

In October 2011, Sheriff Jim Ruth launched “Campaign Lifesaver” and tasked patrol personnel to be on the lookout for moving violations including speeding, not wearing a seat belt, driving recklessly and texting. The sheriff’s message also carried a directive to deputies to issue citations for flagrant violations of traffic laws,” according to Bob Gault, media relations coordinator for BCSO.

“Nobody wants blue lights in their rearview mirror,” said Ruth. “Drivers have got to slow down and be more careful.

“Bradley County is growing, and growth results in an increase in traffic. Operating a vehicle carelessly is unacceptable behavior,” he added.

Another focus of the campaign is to take impaired drivers off the road.

Tennessee’s legal limit for intoxication to be charged with driving under the influence is .08 percent. For drivers under the age of 21 the limit is .02 percent, according to Campbell.

THP is constantly performing Driver Safety or Sobriety Checkpoints in Bradley and surrounding counties.

Campbell said another cause of serious accidents is distracted driving. Looking away for seconds to adjust a radio, make a cellphone call or text, or any of dozens of other distractions have been factors in local crashes.

“We’ve investigated many crashes where the distracted driver ran off the side of the road and then overcorrected, trying to get back in their lane of travel. The end result was crashing into an object along the road or another vehicle,” Campbell said.

What happens when a driver attempts to correct a vehicle which is going out of control?

“The first thing to remember is not to panic. Only apply your brakes if you have to. The difference between having two tires on the road surface and two tires on the shoulder could cause you to lose control [if you brake to hard],” Campbell explained.

“You should take your foot off of the accelerator while keeping a firm grip of the steering wheel. If your tires have traction, continue slowing down. If the difference in the two surfaces is small, once you have reached a safe speed you can turn the steering wheel slightly to get back onto the pavement.

“If there is a sharp drop-off, attempting to steer back onto the pavement could further complicate your situation and could even cause you to flip over or collide with another vehicle,” he said.

Many younger drivers can “over-drive” themselves, he said.

Campbell said that is why you should remain as calm as possible until you have control of the situation.

“If the drop-off is several inches you may have difficulty recovering. Wait until you have slowed to regain full control.”

In the last six years, traffic crashes have claimed 6,260 lives in Tennessee; 89 were in Bradley County.

“We will continue to educate all our motorists, those younger or more seasoned. Our goal is to save lives and drivers from life-changing injuries,” Campbell said.