There are numerous busy roads and highways throughout Tennessee, and car accidents are unfortunately common. While there are many potential causes of car accidents, one of the most frequent problems in the state involves distracted drivers. The Tennessean reports that the state holds the top spot within the U.S. in terms of deaths from cell-phone-related distracted driving. Between 2015 and 2017, distracted drivers using their phones behind the wheel factored into car crashes responsible for over 1,400 deaths. Furthermore, the rate of distracted driving deaths in Tennessee was five times higher than the national average.
Tennessee has laws prohibiting distracted driving, especially in relation to call phone usage. According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, texting is the most dangerous cell-phone related behavior for drivers. Reading and writing text messages while driving is extremely distracting because it affects a driver’s manual, visual and cognitive attention.
To combat the dangers of texting and driving, the Hand Free Tennessee legislation prohibits drivers from holding a mobile device with any body part while driving. The law also prohibits writing, sending and reading any form of text communication, such as emails or messages. Drivers may not watch or record videos on a cell phone while they are behind the wheel. Additionally, the law specifically bans drivers from leaving a proper driving position within the restraints of a seat belt in order to reach for a cell phone.
The Tennessee Highway Safety Office also warns drivers to avoid other types of distracting behavior, including eating, while behind the wheel. The THSO encourages drivers to set up navigation devices before beginning to drive. While hands-free devices are legal in Tennessee, the THSO encourages drivers to pull over before using a mobile device.