What Tennessee’s Hands-Free Driving Law Means for You

holding a cellphone while drivingAccording to a recent study, Tennessee is the worst state in the country for crashes caused by distracted driving.

It is also the 19th state to ban motorists from holding a mobile phone or other freestanding electronic device while operating a vehicle. The law, known as Tennessee Public Chapter No. 412, is the state’s attempt to reduce distracted driving accidents caused by use of a stand-alone electronic device.

If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, Greg Coleman Law is ready to help. Contact one of our experienced Knoxville auto accident lawyers to schedule a free legal consultation and learn whether Tennessee’s new hands-free law may benefit your potential claim.

How PC0412 Affects Drivers

Tennessee PC No. 412 states that motorists may not hold a mobile phone or any other stand-alone electronic device while driving. Breaking this law is classified as a moving violation, so a motorist may be pulled over and given a ticket if he or she is seen holding a cellphone while driving.

Talking via Bluetooth or headphone use will still be permitted for motorists who are 18 years and older, but drivers may only use one button to answer a call.

This law also prohibits these activities while driving:

  • Holding your phone with any part of your body
  • Texting, including reading, writing or sending messages
  • Watching, recording or publishing videos
  • Calling
  • Holding your phone to use or view your GPS
  • Reaching for a cellphone when it causes the driver to not be properly restrained

Many of you may know that Tennessee already had an anti-texting law in place. However, it was ineffective because it was difficult to prove a person was texting or emailing, as opposed to performing other activities. The new law should be easier to enforce because officers only need to establish that a person was holding a mobile phone.

What Offenders Can Expect If They Break the Law

A violation of the Tennessee’s hands-free law is a Class C misdemeanor and brings the following penalties:

  • First and second offense – $50 maximum fine and up to $10 in court costs
  • Third and subsequent offense – A fine up to $100
  • A driver can be fined up to $100 if an accident occurred while he or she was breaking the law
  • If a driver is in a school, construction or work zone, the fine will be increased to $200

In addition to fines, violators will also accrue points on their driving record, which can raise insurance costs. First offenders may elect to complete a driver education course instead of paying the fine.

School bus drivers have a greater responsibility, and therefore face tougher penalties for breaking the law. If a bus driver uses a mobile communications device while on duty, he or she can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, face up to 30 days in jail and owe a minimum fine of $100. Additionally, he or she can be prohibited from ever operating a school bus again 

Why Texting and Driving Is Deadly

Tennessee outranks every other state for the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving. In 2018, there were 24,600 crashes involving distracted drivers, and from 2008 to 2018, an astonishing 207,928 distracted driving accidents occurred.

When drivers use their hands to make a call, text, email or even change a GPS setting, they are neither looking at the road nor paying attention to the traffic or potential dangers around them.

Common Accidents Caused by Drivers Who Use Their Phone While Driving

Drivers who use their phone while driving may cause a variety of accidents, including:

  • Head-on collisions – Serious, life-threatening injuries occur when distracted drivers drift into oncoming traffic. Many times, these kinds of crashes occur at high speed because the driver was looking down or looking away and did not see the danger until it was too late.
  • Rear-end accidents – When drivers try to text in bumper-to-bumper traffic, they may not stop quickly enough and may hit the vehicle in front of them.
  • T-bone accidents – Side-impact collisions may occur if a driver gets distracted while making a left-turn or if he or she drifts into a vehicle traveling in another lane. 

Why Contact an Attorney If You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver?

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, an attorney may be able to help strengthen your claim by investigating your accident and gathering supporting evidence by:

  • Checking the police report to see if the at-fault party received a citation for distracted driving
  • Reviewing Tennessee driving records to check for a previous history of distracted driving tickets
  • Subpoenaing the at-fault driver’s cellphone records to establish the driver made a call or sent a text at the time the crash occurred
  • Investigating vehicle damage and road marks to determine whether the driver tried to slow down. A distracted driver may not have used his or her brakes if he or she was distracted and not looking at the road.

If you were involved in a car accident and believe that your injury was caused by a distracted driver, the personal injury team at Greg Coleman Law is here to help. We can review your potential personal injury claim and discuss your legal options.

There are no upfront costs to retain our services, and you pay us nothing unless we first obtain money for you.

Schedule your free case review today: (865) 247-0080