Traffic safety is a top priority for the State of Tennessee. In fact, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office and the Moore County Sheriff’s Department are launching a brand new traffic safety initiative called Combined Message Enforcement for Tennessee, or CoMET.
“This initiative is much different than its predecessors “Click It or Ticket” or “Booze It & Lose It” explained the Governor’s Highway Safety Office liaison Tony Burnett. “CoMET is designed to focus on all aspects of traffic safety including speeding and aggressive driving, impaired driving, distracted driving and unbelted drivers.” Burnett said, “For several years law enforcement has focused on one traffic safety issue at a time. As driving trends change, it is paramount that law enforcement change their efforts to ensure everyone is safe. Twenty years ago, distracted driving was unheard of, but today it is one of the leading causes of crashes in the United States along with speeding and impaired driving.”
The MCSD is teaming up with law enforcement agencies across the state.
Stopping and arresting alcohol and drug-impaired drivers will be a top priority of the campaign. In 2009, nearly one-third of those killed in crashes on Tennessee highways involved drivers or motorcycle operators with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above at the time of the deadly crash. “Not only is driving under the influence of alcohol illegal, but driving under the influence of illicit and prescribed medication that impairs your ability is just as illegal and dangerous” explained Deputy Shane Taylor. “Before driving be sure to know how your medication affects you. Look for red or yellow warning labels on the side that may say “May Cause Drowsiness” or “Do Not Operate Machinery”. Just because a doctor prescribes it does not mean that it will not impair you.”
Impaired driving is deadly and will not be tolerated. So be forewarned. If you drive impaired, you will be stopped and you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.
Seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect oneself in a deadly crash. Sixty-nine percent of 18 to 34 year old passenger vehicle occupants killed in Tennessee crashes during 2009 were not wearing their safety belts at the time of the crash. “We can and must do better,” says Deputy Taylor.
Speeding and distracted driving laws will also be strongly enforced. In 2009, 21 percent of the highway fatalities in Tennessee were from speeding-related crashes. Thirty-one percent of 18 to 34 year olds that were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Tennessee involved a vehicle that was speeding at the time of the fatal crash.
Distracted driving is another growing and deadly epidemic claiming 5,474 lives and leading to 448,000 injuries nationally in 2009. So law enforcement will be reminding all drivers to put down the cell phone and to never text and drive.
Tennessee is teaming with the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on this important national demonstration project as one of only two states to test the effectiveness of a new combined high visibility enforcement campaign designed to reduce drunk driving, boost seat belt use and crack down on speeding and distracted driving, particularly among young adult males. Research and fatal crash statistics show that young adult males are most likely to practice high risk behaviors while driving such as not wearing seat belts and drinking and driving.