With the first month in the books for the brand-new Tennessee distracted driving law, it’s time to take a look at the effects it’s had on us so far. The new law went into effect on July 1st, and per The Tennessean, 424 citations have been issued as of August 5th, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The new law, which makes it illegal to hold a phone while driving, will be enforced at a more aggressive clip in the coming months.
Of the 424 citations issued in July, the Metro Nashville Police Department issued 46 of them. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has said that the months of July and August were going to be used as an educational period for drivers, although fines and citations were still being issued.
“THP’s goal is to focus on educating and informing the public before implementing aggressive enforcement,” Wes Moster, director of communications for the THP said in a press release.
Tennessee becomes the 19th state to issue such a ban
Tennessee became the 19th state in the country to issue and hand-held ban on cellphone use. The ban makes it illegal for drivers to hold or otherwise physically support a mobile device while they are driving. Drivers are permitted to use headphones or an earpiece, or use a wrist-worn device to make a phone call while driving.
Tennessee one of worst states for distracted driving
According to data from ValuePenguin, the state of Tennessee is the worst in the country for distracted driving. Between the years 2015 and 2017, there were 7.2 deaths caused by distracted driving per 10 billion vehicle miles. This number is almost five times the national average, which comes in at 1.49 deaths per 10 billion vehicle miles. In 2018, there were more than 24,000 accidents related to distracted driving in Tennessee, according to the Hands Free Tennessee campaign.
Citations issued prior to July 1 for distracted driving
It was still illegal to drive while using a handheld mobile device in Tennessee prior to the ban, but only in certain areas. For example, there was a handheld ban implemented for driving in a school zone. Handheld use of a mobile device while driving was also banned for drivers with an intermediate license or a learner’s permit.
But it didn’t stop everyone. The Tennessean reported that since January 1st, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has 2,048 citations for distracted driving. Since we know that 424 were issued between July 1st and August 5th, that means more than three-quarters of all distracted driving citations were issued in the first 5 months of the year. It’s safe to assume that not everyone has gotten the message about the hand-held ban yet – but with numbers like these, we can only assume they’ll be learning fast.
Reviewing the handheld ban
According to the new law, drivers in Tennessee are not allowed to do any of the following while driving:
- Use any part of the body to hold a cell phone or other mobile device
- Read, send or write any text communication
- Reach for a phone or other mobile device that prevents the driver from remaining seated or no longer has them wearing a seat belt
- Watch a movie or video using a mobile device or cell phone
- Broadcast or record video using a mobile phone or any other mobile device
Losing a loved one because another driver was distracted by a cell phone or other mobile device is overwhelming. You and your loved ones deserve compensation for your loss and funeral expenses. Contact an experienced Nashville distracted driving injury attorney from the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm at 615-425-2500 or complete a contact form to schedule a consultation today. We have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville and Knoxville.