On June 1, Tennessee became the nineteenth state to enact a hands-free driving law—and for good reason. A recent study revealed that Tennessee is the deadliest state in the nation for distracted driving, with five times the national average rate of fatalities.
What the law prohibits
- Holding a cellphone
- Writing or reading text messages
- Taking off your seat belt to get to your cellphone
- Watching or recording a video or snap on your cellphone
- Doing any or all of these things even when stopped at a stoplight
What constitutes legal cellphone use
- Calling emergency services
- Mounting your phone on your dashboard or a vent and using GPS
- Mounting your phone on your dashboard or a vent and using one touch to accept/end a call
- Using Bluetooth or integrated car technology to make calls
What is the penalty
For first-time offenders, the penalty is a $50 ticket or a driver’s education class. For repeat offenders, fines increase. Higher fines also apply in construction and school zones.
Will the hands-free law have a better outcome than the existing texting ban?
There is reason to think so. The current ban is obviously not having the desired effect as statistics are dismal. The implementation of a wider ban on holding a phone will make it easier to enforce this ban and produce better results. If the no-hands law is enforced appropriately, it will hopefully spark change among the public over time.