A new Tennessee law means your cell phone may have to take a back seat — or take some other position in your car besides in your hand while you’re driving.
Beginning July 1, all drivers over the age of 18 are prohibited from using their cellphone while driving unless equipped with a hands-free device.
Considering the fact that Tennessee is ranked number one in this country for deaths due to distracted driving, many believe this law is a much needed step in the right direction to help lower deadly accidents caused by this blight.
Where the law stands now
At a hearing, the House Transportation Committee passed the bill with minimal opposition. It was approved by the state Senate in an April vote of 23-7.
According to Jeff Yarbro, Senate Minority Leader, Tennessee’s current distracted driving laws aren’t being enforced in a way that actually makes a difference in the way the state needs.
“I think we right now need to err on the side of saving lives,” Yarbro told local reporters.
One of the lawmakers who opposed the bill, Senator Mike Bell, was quoted during the hearing as saying:
“If you think you’re going to do something to make our roads safer by saying you can only use a hands-free device, according to this article that I pulled up…there has been over 35 studies that show it’s the actual action of talking, not a hands-free versus a hands-off device.”
What’s exactly in the cell phone ban?
The new law specifically prohibits drivers from holding a phone in their hand while driving. A driver can, however, still use a headphone device, earpiece, device worn on the wrist, or mount the car on the dash to take a call.
The driver is allowed to start or end a call with the push of a button or a screen swipe. Drivers can also use apps that allow them to use their voice to draft texts and emails.
The ban excludes law enforcement, first responders and utility workers — as well as drivers who use their phone to make an emergency call.
Young drivers (under the age of 18) are already prohibited from talking on the phone while driving.
Drivers caught breaking the law will be given a fine of up to $200. A first violation will result in a $50 fine.
Tennessee is the 19th to prohibit drivers from talking on a cell phone in their hand while driving.
Have you been a victim of an accident due to a distracted driver’s cell phone use? Contact the experienced Tennessee injury attorneys at Gilreath & Associates to help guide you through the process and get you the compensation you deserve.