Tennessee lawmakers have renewed talks of passing legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to use a cellphone while operating a vehicle unless they have a hands-free device.
Efforts to pass such legislation were attempted in 2016, but failed to find support within both the State House and Senate where the bill’s opponents objected to penalizing drivers for using cellphones.
The proposed bill, SB954, would charge drives who are caught holding their cellphones with a class C misdemeanor and issue a $50 fine.
It would also become a delinquent act for drivers who are under the age of 18-years-old to use a hand-held portable device or read a written message while operating a vehicle.
The bill is being sponsored in the State Senate by Sen. Jim Tracey and in the Tennessee House of Representatives by Rep. John Holsclaw Jr., who is also proposing legislation to increase penalties for drivers who cause severe crashes due to using portable devices.
The bill has been deferred to the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee until March 27.
Tennessee Has a Long History of Distracted Driving Crashes
The proposed legislation comes at a time when the number of auto accidents caused by distracted driving has more than doubled within the last 10 years in Tennessee.
In 2016, there were 24,743 crashes that were caused by distracted drivers, compared to 10,573 collisions that were reported in 2006.
Within the 10-year span between 2006 and 2016, there have been 185,845 auto accidents caused by drivers who were distracted.
The National Safety Council has also ranked Tennessee as the state with the most auto crashes caused by distracted driving, with cellphone use being the leading factor. However, many instances go unreported as proving the driver was using a cellphone can be difficult.
Legal Help with Crashes Involving a Distracted Driver
While distracted driving persists as a large problem in Tennessee, the dangerous driving behavior is also one of the leading causes of the high number of traffic fatalities in 2016.
Drivers put their lives and those of others at risk when they attempt to use a hand-held device while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Those who have suffered because of a distracted driver may have legal options to explore.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, contact our Knoxville car accident attorneys for experienced legal assistance in filing a claim. Our initial consultation is always free and our personal injury lawyers will not charge you any fees unless we help you recover compensation for your claim.