In the United States, about 9 people die every day due to distracted driving. Among the causes of distracted driving is cellphone use while on the wheel.
This has called for the enactment of laws which focus on the reduction of distracted driving one of which is the Tennessee law banning holding phones while driving.
Under the new hands free driving law, you’re liable to a fine for endangering motorists by looking at your phone.
Read on to find out more.
The Hands Free Driving Law
From the 1st of July 2019, Tennessee drivers are prohibited by Public Chapter 412 from:
- Holding a mobile device or cellphone with any part of their bodies,
- Writing, sending or reading of any text-based communication,
- Reaching for a cellphone or other mobile device in a manner which requires the driver not to be in a seated driving position or not properly restrained by their seat belt,
- Watching a video on a mobile device or cellphone,
- Recording or broadcasting videos from a mobile phone or cellphone.
These changes to the driving laws will be in enforcement by law enforcement agencies all across the state.
In the same law, drivers are only allowed to push a single button when accepting or ending a call and not anymore. This means that, if the driver sees a call on their phone, they are only allowed to press the accept button, talk and then press the end button again. As a driver, you’re not allowed to hold the phone up to your ear to talk.
To talk, however, you’re allowed to do so on your earpieces or headphones or through the car’s speakers.
What This Law Means
First of all, you’re not allowed to have a phone on any part of your body. That means that even when you’re not using your phone, having it in your hands is in violation of this law. The phone can be in the cup holder or another part of the car but not on your body.
Secondly, reading, writing or sending a text message means that you’ll be holding your phone in the first place. As such, you’ll be violating two provisions of this law; holding and engaging with text-based communication.
The third provision requires that you don’t reach for your phone in a manner which requires you to move from a driving position, or you’re not properly restrained by your seat belt.
As such, it means that your phone should be close to you yet not on your body. Phone holders that allow you to easily reach for your phone without stretching out will come in handy here. These allow you to reach out with a finger to accept, reject or end a call while still in your natural driving position and restarted by the seat belt.
Watching a video or movie on your phone isn’t permitted for the obvious reasons; it distracts you from driving. Also, recording or broadcasting a video as you drive isn’t permeated as you’ll get distracted from the steering wheel.
If you’re caught with any of these offenses, you’ll be liable to pay a fine as per the seriousness of your offense. You can find a law firm that’ll defend you in court if you’re sure you’re penalized unfairly.
The Reason Behind This Law
While there are other aspects that that contribute to distracted driving, the increasing number of mobile phone users resides concerns as more phones available means that more drivers will have them. They will also try to use them as they drive.
The focus of this law is thus to better these statistics. The reduction of the number of people likely to die from distracted driving will have results from penalizing drivers.
The Penalties for Breaching These Provisions
What happens when you flaunt any of these rules? The penalties are as follows:
- A first offender will get fined $50.
- If you’re committing the offense for the third or subsequent time, you’ll part with $100 as a penalty.
- If your distracted driving led to a crash, you’ll also get fined $100.
- If you’re found using your phone in an active school or work zone, the fine goes up to $200 per offense.
These fines are serious enough to dissuade you from using your phone in any way as you drive.
What Does This Mean for Drivers?
As a driver, the TN hands free driving law has various implications such as the following:
1. You can only use your phone in a true emergency which, according to the law, “threatens human health, life or property, and voice-to-text technology and hands-free devices are still allowed.” Unless you can prove that you held your phone in an emergency, you’re liable for the penalty.
2. You can use your phone when you’re a law enforcement officer and you’re using the phone for work purposes only.
3. When you enter your car, you should put your phone somewhere within the car and not on your body. The place you place it shouldn’t be far away that you’ll need to stretch and distract yourself from the driving.
4. You can use the services on your phone with accessories such as Bluetooth devices, headphones, and headsets. This means services such as reading and writing text messages will not be possible. However, with dictation services available on modern smartphones, you can use most services provided you’re doing so handsfree.
With a proper understanding of this law, you can easily avoid the driving fines set for flaunting this law.
Learn About the New Hands Free Driving Laws
The Hands Free Driving Law, which comes into effect on the 1st of July, will ensure hands free driving without necessarily being inhibitive.
Already, you’re expected as a driver to exercise hands free driving to keep you pr focus on the road ahead. Learn more about this law to avoid penalties or risking your life.
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