Reducing the Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents
The Tennessee Hands-Free Law went into effect on July 1, 2019, aiming to reduce the number of distracted driving fatalities in the state. Drivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the law and practice safe driving habits. The law prohibits all drivers from using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle, including talking on the phone, texting, emailing, surfing the internet, and using social media. It also prohibits drivers from watching videos or movies on their electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Read on to learn more.
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The Exceptions to the Hands-Free Driving Laws
Under the Tennessee Hands-Free Law, it is illegal for anyone to use their cell phone while driving, except in certain circumstances. For instance, drivers can use their cell phones to call 911 or report an emergency. Other than that, they are not permitted to utilize their devices for any other purpose while behind the wheel. This includes talking on the phone, texting, checking email, browsing the internet, etc. Additionally, drivers can use their cell phones in designated areas, such as rest areas, parking lots, and toll plazas.
It is important to note that the Tennessee Hands-Free Law applies to handheld and hands-free devices. This means that even if a driver is using a hands-free device, they are not allowed to use it for anything other than making a phone call.
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Has the Hands-Free Law Worked to Reduce The Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents?
Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents, injuries, and fatalities. In 2018, 3,166 distracted driving-related crashes in Tennessee resulted in 33 deaths and 1,162 injuries.
So, has the hands-free law reduced the risk of distracted driving accidents in Tennessee? While it’s too early to tell for sure, some evidence suggests it is helping. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security estimates that the hands-free law will reduce the number of distracted driving-related crashes by 25 percent.
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The Hands-Free Law Guidelines
Like any other law, the Tennessee Hands-Free Law has its own set of guidelines that you’ll need to follow to avoid getting pulled over or ticketed. Here are some things to keep in mind when driving under the Tennessee Hands-Free Law.
- You can’t use your phone for anything other than hands-free activities. This means no holding your phone in your hand while talking on it and no looking down at it to read or send texts. If you want to use your phone while driving, you’ll need to invest in a hands-free device like a Bluetooth headset or dashboard mount.
- You can’t use your phone for activities that take your attention away from the road. Even if you’re not holding your phone, you can still get pulled over for using it in a way that takes your attention away from the road. This includes taking a call while driving, reading or sending texts, and using social media.
- Even if you’re following all of the guidelines of the Tennessee Hands-Free Law, you can still get pulled over to different kinds of distracted driving. This includes eating while driving, putting on makeup, and talking to passengers. So, it’s important to be aware of all potential distractions before you get behind the wheel.
While the Tennessee Hands-Free Law is a step in the right direction, it’s important to remember that it’s not a license to drive recklessly. Stay focused on the road and be aware of your surroundings.
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Penalties for Violating the Tennessee Hands-Free Law
If law enforcement catches a driver who violates the Tennessee Hands-Free Law, they will be subject to a fine. The first offense will result in a $50 fine, the second offense will result in a $100 fine, and the third offense will result in a $200 fine. Additionally, drivers caught violating the law may also have their license suspended for up to one year.
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How to Get Legal Help After a Car Accident
The goal of the Tennessee Hands-Free Law is to minimize distracted driving fatalities in the state. If you are injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was violating this rule, you may be able to file a claim for damages. To learn more about your legal options, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to review your case and help you understand your rights. When you need to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC can help you every step of the way.