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THP: Distracted driving crashes on the rise in Tennessee

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The Tennessee Highway Patrol is urging drivers to put their phones down after two violent distracted driving crashes in the last two days.

"It's very sad, and it’s very frustrating,” said Lt. Bill Miller, THP spokesperson.

On Monday morning, a dump truck smashed into the back of a family car on I-440 in Nashville. Investigators said distracted driving was a factor in the crash that killed two-year-old Chase Pederson.

The next day, a semi hit a horse drawn buggy sending two people to the hospital. Investigators say the driver of the semi had his eyes off the road.

Miller said deadly distracted driving crashes are on the rise in Tennessee.

"It's a phenomenon that's increased across the country,” Miller said. “It's an epidemic."

Typing a message that says 'I'll be there in 10 minutes' takes about six seconds. If a driver looks down at a cell phone for that amount of time, a car moving at 60 mph has traveled a tenth of a mile or about 175 yards.

"That's a far distance,” said Cassie Sauter, who is visiting Nashville.

She and Liana Denino stopped in Nashville on a road trip from Waco, Texas, to Pittsburgh. On the first leg of their trip, they saw several distracted drivers.

"You can always tell like if a car is swerving then you go to pass them you can see that they're looking down,” Sauter said.

Tennessee highway patrol urges drivers to put the phone down. It's something Sauter said she plans to do after heading north from Music City.

"You can see that text later,” Sauter said. “But if you hurt somebody that’s on you for the rest of your life."

THP said one reason investigators may be seeing the spike is because teens who are starting to drive have grown up their whole lives watching their parents use their phones behind the wheel.

Miller said even if you're an experienced driver, it’s important to set a good example and put down the phone.

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