Did you know that in 2019, there were more than 23,700 car crashes involving a distracted driver in Tennessee? That equates to roughly 65 crashes a day. A nationwide study found that Tennessee has the highest rate of distracted driving deaths out of the entire country.
But how is The Volunteer State combatting this deadly issue? The car accident attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC explain.
What is distracted driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. This can include talking or texting on the phone while driving, eating and drinking, adjusting the radio or navigation system, etc.
In an effort to eliminate distracted driving-related fatalities and injuries, The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security partnered with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to introduce “Hands Free Tennessee.”
The law, known as Public Chapter No. 412, took effect on July 1, 2019. This law requires drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.
Under Hands Free Tennessee regulations, it is illegal for a driver to:
“Hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,
Write, send, or read any text-based communication,
Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,
Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and
Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.”
What are the penalties for not following the Hands Free Tennessee law?
Violation of the Hands Free Tennessee law is a Class C misdemeanor or a traffic citation based on it is considered a moving traffic violation. Fines for violations of the law include:
First-time offense: $50
Third-time offense or higher or violation resulting in a car crash: $100
A violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present; violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation: $200
In addition, you may get three points on your driving record for each violation. After 12 points, your license gets suspended.
Exceptions to Hands Free Tennessee
The following individuals are exempt from the provisions of Hands Free Tennessee:
Officers of this state or of any county, city, or town
Campus police officers and public safety officers
Emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician paramedics, and firefighters, both volunteer and career
Emergency management agency officers of this state or of any county, city, or town
“Persons using a wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property;
Employees or contractors of utility services providers acting within the scope of their employment; and
Persons who are lawfully stopped or parked in their motor vehicles or who lawfully leave standing their motor vehicles.”
However, if the use of a cell phone is not within the scope of requirements of the job, or is not used to communicate with first responders, penalties may be imposed.
Though laws exist to protect Tennessee citizens from car accidents, they still occur at alarming rates. If you are injured in a car accident, you need Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC.
Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard Will Get You The Compensation You Deserve
If you are injured as a result of a collision with a distracted driver, know that you deserve compensation for your sustained injuries.
Our firm’s car accident lawyers utilize years of experience and the latest technology to help victims across Tennessee. Contact us today for a free consultation. Justice starts with Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC.