New Tennessee Law Targets Distracted Drivers By Restricting Cell Phone Use | Nashville Public Radio

New Tennessee Law Targets Distracted Drivers By Restricting Cell Phone Use

Jun 21, 2019

A new Tennessee law taking effect July 1 will crack down on cell phone use while driving, fining motorists even for the act of holding a cell phone while at the wheel.

The new rule is the state’s latest attempt to address the high rate of phone-related accidents.

There are nearly 25,000 distracted driving crashes on Tennessee roadways every year. That's even though the state made it illegal to text and drive years ago.

Lieutenant Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the new law won’t stop drivers from using their phones completely, but he hopes it will encourage them to choose hands-free options, such as Bluetooth.

“You need to put the phone down and drive, because anything that you’re doing within that vehicle that distracts you or takes away from safe operation of your vehicle is really dangerous,” Miller said.

He doesn’t think the law will be difficult to enforce. Miller said state troopers catch distracted drivers all the time. He’s even seen people steering with their knees while they sip coffee or smoke a cigarette.

More than a dozen other states have already prohibited handheld cellphone use while driving. Research suggests going hands-free could prevent more car crashes than texting bans, especially for teens and young adults.