WHEN SAFETY MATTERS

THP takes proactive approach to Coca-Cola

By ALLEN MINCEY Banner Staff Writer
Posted 11/18/16

The Tennessee Highway Patrol does more than just write tickets; troopers oftentimes have the difficult tasks of working and investigating traffic accidents involving fatalities.

This has been …

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WHEN SAFETY MATTERS

THP takes proactive approach to Coca-Cola

EMPLOYEES at Coca-Cola Consolidated, such as Michael Sous, were asked to sign a pledge banner showing their willingness to drive safely. The Tennessee Highway Patrol provided a defensive driving session for the employees at the local company Thursday.
EMPLOYEES at Coca-Cola Consolidated, such as Michael Sous, were asked to sign a pledge banner showing their willingness to drive safely. The Tennessee Highway Patrol provided a defensive driving session for the employees at the local company Thursday.
Banner photo, ALLEN MINCEY
Posted

The Tennessee Highway Patrol does more than just write tickets; troopers oftentimes have the difficult tasks of working and investigating traffic accidents involving fatalities.

This has been the picture of what the THP does, but that was when they were more of a reactive agency. The agency would much rather not have to work these types of accidents, and be more proactive in curbing them from happening in the first place.

Lt. John Harmon and Sgt. Thomas Seymour III presented a program Thursday to employees of Coca-Cola Consolidated to explain what causes such accidents, and how being aware of the dangers on the roads can help alleviate such fatal crashes.

“Since 1929, (the Highway Patrol) has been a reactive unit,” Harmon said. “Now, we have become more proactive — more that we have ever been.”

That proactive approach has Harmon on the road conducting defensive driving sessions to area businesses, civic clubs, and other organizations which request such presentations.

At the session Thursday, Harmon talked about the major reasons for traffic accidents in Tennessee.

“The No. 1 problem is speeding,” he said. “By general order, you can drive three miles over the speed limit, but anything over that is a violation.”

He gave an example of those who drive 30 miles over the speed limit, and 20 miles over the speed limit, and noted that even in locations where that limit might be 55 miles per hour, driving 30 miles over the speed limit will lead to a person doing 85 miles per hour, which is not safe.

“You need to do your best to stay around the speed limit, but we often get complacent and drive faster than we should,” he said. “We have to remember that there are others on the road driving over the limit, so we must drive defensively because everyone else may be driving offensively.”

Harmon said that wearing a seat belt is very important to ensure safety, and it helps save lives. One driver in the audience at Coca-Cola Consolidated agreed, stating that he was involved in a traffic accident years ago and it was his wearing a safety belt that may have saved his life.

The state trooper pointed out that there is only 12 inches of space between the two sides of a yellow line in the middle of the road. “That is all that is separating cars from each other,” he said.

He noted that even if a driver is in the middle of his lane of traffic, the distance between him and an oncoming vehicle in the center of the other lane is only 3 feet.

Harmon said that motorists should always drive with their lights on, as it makes them easier to see by others who might attempted to pull from a road into their path. He added that drivers should lock their doors, and definitely not use electronic devices when driving.

“These things are becoming an epidemic,” Harmon said of cellphones when used by drivers, “and it ain’t getting any better.”

“We must do better as drivers. You want to get home to your family every day, and we want to make sure you get there safely,” he said.

Harmon presented a video from Missouri that showed real-life fatal accidents and the aftermath of not only how the vehicles looked after an accident, but the victims as well. Though he apologized for the visuals, and admitted that he “still gets chills every time I see it,” he said that it is important to see what can happen at anytime a driver may be distracted or be the victim of a wreck caused by a distracted driver.

One of those in the video put it best when she said of causing a fatal accident: “The physical scars will heal, but this is something that you have to live with the rest of your life. Those scars will always be there.”

“You can change your driving habits,” Harmon said. “There is nothing a trooper hates more than having to go to a home, knock on the door, and tell a father or mother that their child has been killed in a traffic accident. We want you to help us prevent those types of accidents.”

Harmon said that he will give a similar presentation to anyone who asks.

“The Tennessee Highway Patrol have many qualified troopers to give many presentations on many topics,” he said. “Today was a defensive driving topic which is one of many of the series that the Tennessee Highway Patrol has.

“We offer many topics for many audiences. There is not an audience that we would not like to speak to. We have child safety, we have Homeland Security, we do drug and alcohol presentations ... there are many topics where we have professional speakers in the highway patrol can come out and speak to a group about,” Harmon added. “We also talk about commercial vehicle safety such as we did today, and we do teen safety within the schools.”

Seymour, the immediate supervisor for the Bradley and Polk county areas, and he said he wanted to be at the session because he has been in the situation where he has had to work a fatal accident and tell a family of the incident.

“Our job is we want to prevent these accidents before they happen, and education is the key to that,” Seymour said. “A lot of people don’t know we do this, and we want to have these presentations so we can promote safety on our roadways.”

To set up such a presentation, contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol headquarters in Chattanooga, and ask for Sgt. Thomas Seymour or Lt. John Harmon.

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