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Hands Free Bill Passes Tennessee House in Effort to Curb Distracted Driving

The Tennessee House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it against the law to talk on hand-held devices, such as a cell phone, while driving on any road within the state. Laws like this, known as hands-free laws, have been passed in other states already. The bill that just passed in Tennessee is HB 0164, and it now goes to the Tennessee Senate for a vote.

HB 0164 seeks to add language to Tenn. Code Ann. 55-8-207. Specifically, it seeks to prevent any driver under the age of 18 from talking on a mobile phone while the car is in motion, whether it’s a hand held device or hands-free device. Drivers who are 18 or older would only be allowed to talk while driving on a hands-free device. A driver who violates this statute would be subject to a fine of $100, but if the violation led to an accident, the fine would increase to $200.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks accident data across the United States with a goal of reducing wrecks and traffic fatalities. The NHTSA succinctly defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” They go on to list several examples, such as texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, fiddling with the radio, or monitoring GPS systems while driving.

In Tennessee, texting while driving is already against the law. However, the other forms of distraction can be just as dangerous. If you have been injured in a car accident in Tennessee, you will need to prove the other driver’s negligence in order to recover for your medical bills, injuries, and losses. Negligence, often defined as the failure to act reasonably under the circumstances, can include distracted driving. Distracted driving can be disastrous. For example, in December 2018, a bicyclist was struck by an SUV on Highway 11 near Rock Quarry Road in near Knoxville, Tennessee. As a result of the impact, the bicyclist was killed. Troopers from the Tennessee State Patrol investigated the wreck and determined the SUV driver was distracted by his cell phone, which prevented him from devoting his full attention to the road.

Legislators across the country continue work on ways to limit distracted driving, as every day, nearly 9 people are killed and 1,000 are injured in these types of automobile crashes, according to the CDC. Tennessee is no different. Tennessee lawmakers likely noted how the number of distracted driver crashes increased 150% between 2010 (10,822 accidents) and 2017 (24,786 accidents). During this time frame, you can likely guess the counties with the most distracted driving accidents: Shelby County, Davidson County, Hamilton County, Knox County, and Rutherford County.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in an automobile accident, call our Tennessee car accident lawyers for guidance. Our attorneys stay up to date on changes in Tennessee laws, and we monitor potential changes in the law such as this hands-free bill. NST Law serves all of Tennessee, including Memphis, Knoxville, Jackson, Nashville, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, and cities and counties in between. For a free consultation with an auto accident attorney about your case today, call us toll-free at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form.