Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department unveils distracted driving simulator

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. - The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department takes distracted driving seriously.

Now, the agency has a new tool in the fight. One that's unlike anything else in the Tennessee Valley.

The sheriff's department applied for, and received, a grant to buy a distracted driving simulator.

While there are around 10 simulators in the Middle Tennessee region, this is the first one in the Tennessee Valley.

Attending Tuesday's unveiling, Tony Burnett was impressed.

Burnett is the law enforcement liaison for the Governor's Highway Safety Office and said, "I go all across the state, looking at driving simulators where we provide grant funds."

"I have never seen any department yet to go with technology and going all the way with this," he added.

That includes a trailer to take the simulator on the road.

Sheriff Murray Blackwelder says, "we can carry (it) around to local schools, public events, churches."

Users navigate through a series of typical driving challenges. In one program, a "friend" asks the user to dial a number. There is also a program that simulates driving while impaired.

The first stop for the simulator is the fair. It opens Saturday, September 10th. With the exception of Sunday, September 11th, the simulator will be available to anyone who would like to try it out.

And, it's not just Lincoln County drivers who will benefit from the experience. Sheriff Blackwelder says his department would be happy to take the simulator on the road, allowing surrounding agencies to use it.

After all, distracted driving knows no boundaries.

Law enforcement officers hope the simulator is a life-changing experience. Perhaps even, a life-saving one.