Hands-Free Driving Laws In Tennessee

Driving through Tennessee, it is not uncommon to see drivers thoroughly distracted by their cell phones, electronic devices, or something else while they are operating their vehicles. Unfortunately, distracted driving regularly leads to severe accidents throughout this state. In an effort to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents and fatalities in Tennessee, the state legislature passed a hands-free driving law that you need to be aware of.

What does the TN hands-free law do?

As technology becomes more and more integrated into our lives, as well as our vehicles, the rates of distracted driving have increased. That is why, effective July 1, 2019, cell phone use while driving in Tennessee became illegal.

Specifically, the Tennessee hands-free law states that it is illegal for drivers to do the following while operating their vehicle:

  • Hold any mobile device with any part of their body, including using their shoulder to hold the phone to their cheek.
  • Write, send, or read any text messages (this includes social media and email use).
  • Reach for their cell phone or mobile device in a way that requires the driver to no longer be in their seating position or properly restrained by their safety belt.
  • Watch a video or movie with a cell phone or other electronic device.
  • Record or broadcast with their cell phone or other electronic device.

The hands-free law does allow for certain exceptions, including the following:

  • Using a hands-free accessory, including earpieces, headphones, or a wrist-worn device.
  • Using dash mounts similar to the ones used by rideshare drivers.
  • Using a phone to make an emergency call.

The penalty for violating Tennessee’s hands-free law is a fine of up to $200.

The dangers of distracted driving

During the latest reporting year in Tennessee, the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security says that there were 23,758 total distracted driving crashes. Unfortunately, these incidents often result in severe injuries for victims. It is not uncommon for distracted driving incidents to happen at higher speeds, and those responsible for these incidents may not even have time to hit their brakes before a crash occurs. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,000 people are injured each day across the country due to distracted driving. For those who do survive these incidents, it is not uncommon for them to sustain the following:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
  • Amputations or crush wounds
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
  • and more

By following the Tennessee hands-free law, everyone on the roadways throughout the state will be safer. Tennessee was the 19th state to ban handheld cell phone use for drivers. The reality is that these laws are necessary. According to the CDC, if a person is driving at 55 mph and takes their eyes off the road to fiddle with their cell phone, even if just for five seconds, they will have driven far enough to cover the entire length of a football field. That is certainly enough distance to cause a severe accident. If you have additional questions about Tennessee traffic laws, or were recently involved in an accident, reach out to our Nashville car accident lawyers.