On April 30, the Tennessee State Senate approved a bill with a 23-7 vote to ban drivers from talking on phones without a hands-free device (such as an earpiece, headphones, or a smart wrist watch). Under the law, drivers can also opt to mount their phones onto the dashboard and make calls only if it takes a single swipe or push to do so. If passed, the law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Despite the obvious danger that comes with drivers using their phones, Tennessee is one of the least restrictive states in implementing and enforcing legislation on the matter. In fact, a report released in March by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) revealed that Tennessee is the worst among all 50 states for distracted driving fatalities. Tennessee’s fatality rate of 7.20 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles is nearly five times the national average and over double Delaware’s rate of 3.28 fatalities per 10 billion miles, which ranks second.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbo, a proponent of the bill, commented on Tennessee’s abysmal ranking, saying “I don’t think you can look at what’s happening in Tennessee and not think this is a serious, deadly issue. [Current legislation] is not being enforced in a way that is actually making a difference in a way that we need.”
Drivers who violate the law could be fined $50 for a first time offense, $100 for a second time offense, and up to $200 if using a device in work or school zones. Hopefully, this is enough incentive for Tennessee drivers to commit to using hands-free technology on the road.
If you or a loved one has experienced pain and suffering caused by a distracted driver, consider speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer at the law firm of Bailey and Greer – we are always available to help with more information or a free evaluation of your case. You can contact us via our website or call (901) 475-7434.
Thomas Greer is a Memphis, TN personal injury trial attorney with Bailey & Greer. He has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Thomas has obtained multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout his career. Thomas lives in Memphis with his wife and four daughters.