April is designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Tennessee Highway Safety Office and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security are joining to share a unified message: Thumbs Down to Texting and Driving.


During April, the Highway Safety Office asks people to use their social media presence to promote their distaste for texting and driving.  The public can participate by taking a selfie giving the thumbs down and posting it using #ThumbsDownTN.  “We all see people texting while driving each day,” said Tennessee Highway Safety Office Public Information Officer Amanda Brown.  “Everyone can agree that it is a dangerous behavior, but for most people, that knowledge alone isn’t stopping them.  Take some time this month to let your friends, family, and co-workers know how you feel about it.”


Distracted driving is not just a teen problem—it is a Tennessee problem. Analysis of distracted driving crashes in Tennessee show no particular age group is more problematic than the other when it comes to driving while distracted.  Further, distracted driving is not just texting. It is any form of driver inattention; this can include eating, grooming, talking to passengers, and manipulating devices like radios or GPS systems.  Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.


Preliminary data reveals that in 2015, Tennessee experienced its highest number of known distracted driving crashes at 22,964.  These crashes resulted in the death of 51 people.  Each day, twenty-five individuals on average are injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver.  Nearly twelve percent of all crashes in Tennessee last year were caused by someone who was driving distracted.


“Messaging of any kind while driving is against the law in Tennessee,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.  “It is punishable by, at minimum, a fifty dollar fine plus court costs.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol continually focuses on innovative ways to counter this dangerous behavior.  We are committed to enforcing this law to the fullest extent in order to prevent deaths and crashes on our roads.”


For more information about the campaign, visit www.thumbsdowntn.com.