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Distracted driving is a major problem on city streets and highways. It’s been reported that taking your eyes off the road for merely two or more seconds seconds doubles the risk of being involved in a traffic accident. This is serious. 

It might not seem like a big deal to glance at a quick text message or make a phone call. The truth is that these lapses in attention can be deadly. Until recently, it was up to the driver to make a judgment call on distracted driving in Tennessee. Hands Free Tennessee is working to spread the word about a new law that looks to battle distracted driving.

The Hands Free Law officially went into effect on July 1st, 2019. Over 400 citations were issued throughout the state of Tennessee within the first month. However, when taking into account the size of the state, some were left wondering why the number wasn’t higher. 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol started a social media campaign at the end of August. They warned that the two month grace period for the law was over. From now on, if you break the Hands Free Law, you’ll receive a citation.

But what is the law? And how does it affect the way we communicate while commuting? Let’s take a look at the specifics.

Hands Free Law

This law was written to eliminate any chance of being distracted by a phone while driving. This means a driver cannot hold their cell phone in their hand while driving a car. This includes even when the phone is not in use. Simply driving down the road and fidgeting with your cell phone puts you in violation of the law.

What Can’t I Do?

Text messaging is also outlawed. In fact, any form of text-based communication is off-limits.

Maintaining a position conducive to driving is outlined in the law as well. This means that reaching for your mobile device is against the Hands Free Law if it puts the driver in a position that they are no longer properly restrained by their seat belt. Reaching in such a way that it takes the driver out of a seated position is also forbidden by the law.

Watching movies while driving should already be something you don’t do. This is now expressly against the law. No longer will drivers be permitted to keep up with their favorite cinema while navigating traffic.

Creating your own movies is included as well. Recording or broadcasting video from your mobile device is no longer permissible under the Tennessee Hands Free Law.

What Can I Do?

Drivers are still allowed to make calls, but the phone must be out of their hands. Use of either a holster or simply a cup holder will do the trick. The driver is allowed to push one button to either initiate or end a call. 

A driver is allowed to use their phone in case of an emergency. Communicating with law enforcement, medical providers, or the fire department is permitted. This must occur during an emergency that threatens someone’s health, life, or property.

What Happens If I’m Caught?

Like most citations, the number of times you receive one affects the penalty. First time offenders will receive a ticket for $50. The third offense and all that follow should expect a $100 dollar ticket. However, if the violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present or in a school zone while flashers are in operation, the ticket goes up to $200.

A driver also receives three points on their record for each infraction.

This might seem a bit unnecessary to some. Drivers often claim glancing away for a moment doesn’t impact their driving ability. But is that true? How much does distracted driving affect performance?

Why It’s Necessary

A recent study listed Tennessee as having the highest amount of distracted driving deaths in the country. In fact, Tennessee’s rate was five times above the national average and twice as high as the second highest state. To say distracted driving is a problem in Tennessee is quite an understatement. 

There were over 24,600 crashes involving distracted driving in Tennessee last year. That’s almost one crash every 20 minutes. 

The unfortunate truth is that even though most people recognize distracted driving as a problem, they continue to do it. A phone in your hand is sometimes too convenient to pass up. Whether it’s checking a map or texting a friend, the rewards are immediate. This makes it difficult to give up. However, the stats don’t lie. Distracted driving is an immense danger. The Hands Free Law aims to lessen this danger.

Royce Williams is your insurance specialist in Nashville, TN. Find out how he can save you money today.

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