The reality is that, by this point, everyone knows you should not drive distracted. So maybe it is not more awareness we need, but more action. But just like losing 10 lbs. or learning a new language, it can be difficult for some people to find the discipline to actually stop driving while distracted. In fact, Americans seem to be doing worse instead of better. Recent studies show distracted driving has actually increased nearly 30% since the start of the pandemic. So what can you do?
First, you should know that operating a vehicle while holding a phone has been against the law in Tennessee since July 1, 2019. The major exception is if you are calling emergency services for a bona fide emergency. The bill was designed, in part, to make it easier for law enforcement to crack down on distracted driving. If you are caught driving while holding your phone, you can expect to receive 3 points on your license (12 points results in a suspension) and probably a significant increase in your car insurance rates.
If that is not a sufficient deterrent, then consider this: in 2020, Tennessee had 20,400 distracted driving crashes. And almost certainly, distracted driving crashes are undercounted. Often, law enforcement simply is not aware that someone who caused the crash was distracted and so it is not listed on the official crash report and not counted in the statistics. We can almost guarantee you, that before the crash, the 20,400 people who were involved in those distracted driving crashes, thought they were good enough drivers to be able to use their phone accident-free. Of course, they were not and some people were seriously hurt, and some people lost their lives in those crashes. The drivers who caused those crashes must deal with that fact and some likely faced more serious criminal charges in an addition to civil lawsuits. If the thought of hurting others does not deter you, remember you could hurt or kill yourself.
If you need help resisting the temptation, there are a plethora of distracted driving apps that can help by preventing texts and calls while you are driving. Or you could do it the old-fashion way; simply put your phone in the trunk or turn it off when you get in the car.
We have one last piece of advice. Even if you are not driving distracted, plenty of other drivers in our State are doing it. In fact, one study found that Tennessee has the highest rate of distracted driving in the country, more than five times the national average. Combine that fact with the fact that 1 in 5 drivers in Tennessee have zero insurance (and a large number only have the bare minimum car insurance) and you could find yourself without adequate compensation if you are injured by one of these distracted drivers. To protect yourself, we strongly recommend you consult your insurance agent about obtaining uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is insurance coverage that will protect you if you are hit by someone without any insurance or without sufficient insurance, and it is surprisingly affordable. Much more affordable than being out of work for 3 months and facing burdensome medical bills because you were injured by a distracted driver without any insurance.
At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning attorneys help individuals and families who have been injured by distracted drivers. Give us a call. We will talk to you about your case for free and without obligation. If we think we can help and you want to hire us, we will handle your case on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we recover money for you.