Library to host distracted driving class

With distracted driving laws like Hands Free spreading across the country, police and other organizations are working to make sure drivers are aware of what counts as distracted driving and ways to avoid it, and the library is no exception.

Adult Services Coordinator Maryann Owen said she got in contact with Lt. Richard Garrison to host a distracted driving course titled “Tennessee is Number 1: in Distracted Driving.”

“I have been witnessing it myself,” Owen said.

She said in a 10-day period, a particular turn she makes every day always has a driver crossing the double yellow line into her lane.

“A day does not go by where you do not see or hear about it,” she said. “There were about nine deaths and 1,000 injuries a day due to distracted driving in 2018.”

She said Tennessee’s distracted driving rate is roughly five times the national average.

She said distracted driving can include texting, but it also includes eating food, putting on makeup, talking to children in the back seat to even a simple phone call.

“A single text results in about five seconds of distraction,” Owen said. “If you are going 60 miles per hour, that is the length of a football field.”

The Hands Free law has faced criticism for its strictness, and while Owen agreed it was sad the law was deemed necessary, she said the end result was necessary.

“I agree laws can restrict our freedoms,” she said. “When they are driving a weapon, they should be cautious.”

She said she has mixed feelings about the law, partly because she said cars themselves come with flashy, distracting features that would otherwise be done on smartphones, including a GPS screen that talks to the driver.

“If I am on the phone for over a minute, I feel I am too distracted,” Owen said. “I will either hang up and call back later or I will pull over and finish the call.”

The event will take place Monday, July 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. Owen said anyone interested is welcome to attend, especially teenagers, who she said are a group that really needs to hear the information on display.

“He will come with the facts and the statistics,” Owen said. “He has seen the accidents.”

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