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Tennessee State: Hands Free Driving Law

Tennessee Driver using cell phone

You may have already heard other states putting similar laws into effect to make roads safer for all drivers.

It is important to know the rules of the road whether you are a visitor or resident of Tennessee. July 1st of 2019 Tennessee placed a hand-held ban against cellphones in hopes to cut down on the ever-climbing numbers of car crashes Tennessee experiences. This simply means you no longer can support your phone with any part of your body while you’re driving. Including but not limited to;

Tennessee Celle Phone Driver Rules

  • - No “selfies”/ photos
  • - No recording while driving of any sort. This means capturing a rainbow or selfie while hitting the open road is no longer allowed.
  • - No leaving your phone in your lap.
  • - No facetime/video phone calls - This means no more Marco Polo recording is allowed if you are driving.
  • - No ordering food via mobile apps
  • - Please be careful when switching songs!

However, you can use your mobile device if its dashboard mounted, but only for directional applications such GPS, Waze, Google Maps, etc. If you need to make a call you have to have a completely hands-free device such as Bluetooth or those small earpieces.

Rules for Drivers Under Age 18 in Tennessee

If you’re the parent of a driver under 18 you’ll be either glad or terrified to hear that Tennessee's Hands-Free Law also prohibits mobile use of any kind for these drivers. They will learn to love the radio. If any driver, teen or adult, are caught unlawfully driving with their mobile device you’ll be charged with a class C misdemeanor. Meaning it’s a moving violation, there will be a fine and court costs.

  • - First time caught will be a $50 + court costs
  • - Second & Third time caught will be $100 + court costs
  • - If caught in a school zone, construction zone, or any place with transport workers its $200 + court costs

Now, if you need to make an emergency phone call its permitted. Just keep in mind being late for work does not constitute as an emergency. And if you are and you need to call your boss, do not use the breakdown lanes on the highway, and don’t pull over into a bike lane. Keep driving until you reach a safe place completely off the roadway.

How effective are Hands-Free Cellphone Driving Laws

As mentioned above other states have already passed hand-held bans some of which are California, Connecticut, and New York. When California first moved their hand-held ban into effect in July of 2008 they estimated 9.3% of drivers actively used their phones while driving. Immediately after the ban went into effect cellphone use while driving had decreased to 3.3%.

-Cell Phone Use While Driving Decreased

It had dropped by 57%. California then had placed a texting ban that went into effect January 2009 estimating that only 1.5% of drivers freely texted while driving. Immediately after this ban moved into place texting while driving had dropped to 0.3%, but then climbed to 3.4%. It doubled the estimate. This is startling to think about because even though these bans are out there to keep people safe there will always be those who ignore the law.

Stats Show No Drop in Car Collisions after Cell Phone Bans

An even larger reflection of that is the number of car crashes in these states-- they haven’t changed. California, Connecticut, and New York have not seen any changes in the number of car crashes from pre handheld ban to post handheld ban.

Only time will tell if it will positively affect Tennessee or be another law people sweep under the rug. In the meanwhile keep yourself and others around you safe, and keep that phone off and out of sight while cruising.


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Insurance Journal
Marshall and Associates Attorneys at Law