This year in Tennessee, Labor Day Weekend marked not only the end of summer, but also the end of the grace period for our state’s new hands free law. As a Memphis distracted driving attorney, I encourage you to do your research on the new rules.
Since Tennessee’s Hands Free Law went into effect on July 1st, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has cited more than 1,100 drivers for using phones behind the wheel. Many were mere warnings, but as of two weekends ago, the grace period is over: “Time’s up,” Lt. Charlie Chaplinger told WSMV News4 Nashville. “If you get caught with your phone in your hand, you will be cited.”
What the New Hands Free Law Means for Drivers
Every year, distracted driving claims far too many lives, and we have a Memphis distracted driving attorney ready to fight for you if you or a loved one has been the victim of reckless driving.
You can easily see that these fatalities are preventable, which in my mind makes them all the more tragic. The goal of the new law is to eliminate distracted driving-related fatalities in Tennessee. More specifically, it is now illegal to:
- Hold a cell phone or mobile device with any part of the body
- Write, send, or read any text-based communication
- Reach for a cell phone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt
- Watch a video or movie on a cell phone or mobile device
- Record or broadcast a video on a cell phone or mobile device
As the Tennessean reported, “A driver’s first violation will result in a $50 fine. If the violation is the driver’s third offense or it results in a wreck, the fine jumps to $100. If the violation occurs in a work zone when workers are present or in a school zone when warning flashers are on, the fine is $200.”
The campaign Hands Free Tennessee was launched to help raise awareness of the law and educate Tennessee drivers on its implications. For more information you can visit the campaign’s website at handsfreetn.com.
There is a distracted driving epidemic in our state.
There were 24,600 distracted driving crashes in Tennessee in 2018. From 2015 to 2017, Tenneesee led the nation in distracted driving fatalities. There were 7.2 distracted driving deaths per 10 billion vehicle miles, which is nearly five times the national average.
As noted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, texting while driving isn’t the only form of distracted driving. There are three main types of distractions a driver can experience:
- Visual: Taking your eyes off of the road
- Manual: Taking your hands off of the wheel
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving
Texting is especially dangerous because it combines the three forms of distraction. But anything that compromises your attention is a distraction. While the new law doesn’t prohibit using a navigation system or eating while driving, these are all activities that I urge you to think twice about while driving. Remember, the $200 fine is nothing compared to the loss of life, and nothing is important enough to take your attention off of the road.
Get Legal Help From a Memphis Distracted Driving Attorney
Our experienced lawyers understand the physical and emotional toll of a car accident. If you or a loved one has been the victim of distracted driving, call us to get the compensation you need and deserve.