Clanton Police crackdown on people texting and driving

It is a small community with a big problem, drivers putting other drivers in danger, paying attention to their phones not the road.

{}"It's 5 seconds that you can't take back. Once you send or receive that text, those 5 seconds could make the difference between somebody surviving an accident and somebody not surviving," said Captain David Clackley with the Clanton Police Department.

Clackley and Lt. Eric Smitherman{}are part of a five-man team determined to save lives. You may not see them patrolling the streets but{}they warn,{}they are watching you. We tagged along as they looked for drivers breaking the law, which bans texting while driving.

"You hope that you can reach these folks and that they understand the importance of it because you don't want to have to come back a week later and see that person. whether they are killed in a wreck of their own fault or they weren't able to respond to someone else's error because they were distracted with the phone."

{}Chief Brian Stilwell said {}there have been more than{}1,000 accidents in Clanton over the last three years, with 259 injuries.

"It's amazing when you pay attention to it and sit at an intersection or on the side of the road and watch for it, how many people come by, said{}Stilwell. "I don't think{}I saw anybody that didn't have a phone attached to their ear in some way shape or form."

Stilwell joined his team out on the road to see how hard it would be to enforce the state's fairly new law. Within an hour they wrote at least five tickets to people texting and driving.

"Most everybody that has been stopped realizes that they should not be doing it. We have had a few that have said{}I am not texting{}I am just dialing on my telephone, said Stilwell." "With the smartphone it is hard to tell if they are dialing or talking, but some of it is really obvious when they have it propped up on the steering wheel and they are playing with it."

{}It's a{}bad habit the department hopes to crack down on before its too late.

"If we can just save a few lives by enforcing this, than it makes it worth it, especially for the mother's and father's of the would be victims, said Clackley."

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