(WM-TV) - Thirty six people have been killed in Shelby County car crashes since January 1. Now there is a new way to cut down on one deadly road threat: distracted driving.
Inside a tractor-trailer marked Tennessee State Trooper, you will find Sgt. Chris Richardson and a fellow state trooper.
They can see a lot more than other patrols on the roads.
"We're just looking down in the vehicles so we can see, we can see when they're texting, or using their phone anyway they're not supposed to be using," said Richardson.
The bird's eye view gives him and his driver a chance to help stop distracted drivers in the act of putting makeup on, reading the newspaper, or using the phone. It also caught people not wearing seat belts.
In the hour-long patrol, they caught two seat belt violators and two people using their cell phones. They even saw one person reading their mail.
"Distracted driving has just become an epidemic. Everybody does it," said Richardson.
But they are hoping to change that, even if only for the few they catch.
Still he says, they can only do so much to enforce the law. It ultimately comes down to the driver.
"It really takes buy in, if people would join us and realize the dangers of what their driving is causing then the enforcement then becomes secondary," said Richardson.
The tractor-trailer was seized in a drug trafficking case, that means it does not cost tax payer dollars, and they hope to add several more just like it.