New Tennessee cellphone law effective July 1st


You probably have seen them – the bumper stickers, sometimes profanity-laced, urging drivers to put down the dang phone and drive.   On July 1st, if you don’t put down the dang or %#@$ phone, you could be talking to a police officer. 

On July 1st, police in Tennessee will be allowed to ticket drivers who are holding a phone while operating their vehicle.  The law is just another arrow in law enforcement’s quiver to try and prevent distracted driving.   Prior to the enactment of the law, police had complained that effectively catching people texting and driving was too difficult.  Even if the police officer saw the driver with a phone in his or her hand, the driver would claim, truthfully sometimes I am sure, that they were talking on the phone or using a navigation app, etc.  Under the new law, Tennessee police officers are empowered to pull over and ticket drivers who are holding a cellphone while driving – regardless of the reason for holding the phone.  The fine for the first violation is $100.  If the cellphone violation causes an accident, the fine increases to $200.

If the fine is not enough to cause drivers to put down their phones, perhaps the increase in their car insurance will be.  And if the fine and the increase in car insurance is not enough to stop Tennessee drivers from holding their cellphone while driving, then perhaps some of these stats will change their mind:

  • In 2017, 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving accidents and another roughly 425,000 people are injured each year by a distracted driving. Of course, these are just the accidents that can be definitively tied to distracted driving by law enforcement.  Experts believe distracted driving injuries and deaths are actually underreported.
  • Despite safety campaigns, distracted driving is on the rise.
  • Sending or reading a text takes roughly 5 seconds. While your eyes are off the road for those 5 seconds, you can travel the length of a football field if you are traveling 55 mph.  Anything can happen during that time: a pedestrian could appear in your path.  The car in front of you might stop to make a turn.  You could fail to account for a change in the roadway such as a curve.  A vehicle could pull into your path. But it is not just the visual distraction, it is also the cognitive distraction.  Whatever you are doing on your phone means you are not giving your full time and attention to the act of driving.
  • For teens, 60% of their fatal accidents involve distracted driving.

If you need to talk on your phone while driving, use Bluetooth technology.  Other tips for avoiding distracted driving are to use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone.  This feature prevents texts from dinging in while the vehicle is in operation.  Or, you can use an app like Zendrive or TrueMotion to help monitor your cellphone use while driving.  Drivers who use these apps say the driving metrics data increases their awareness which in turn results in them using their cellphones less while they drive.  Put your phone in the trunk or otherwise keep your phone out of reach so that you are not tempted to use it while driving.

At the Law Offices of John Day, our award-winning lawyers help victims injured in car accidents caused by distracted driving.  And, we are here to help you too.  We offer a free consultation.  If you cannot come to use, we are happy to come to you.  If we think we can help and you decide to hire us, we handle all accident cases on a contingency basis, which is explained in more detail here.  To see if you have a case and to more fully understand your rights, give us a call at one of the numbers below:

Nashville: 615-669-3993

Murfreesboro: 615-867-9900

Brentwood: 615-742-4880

Toll-Free: 866-812-8787

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