Did You Know? Tennessee Led the Nation in a Bad Way

By: Richard Holt, P.E., M.ASCE

According to the “Hands Free Tennessee” campaign, there were 24,600 crashes involving a distracted driver in Tennessee in 2018. A recent study also revealed that from 2015 to 2017, Tennessee had the highest rate of distracted driving deaths in the nation, at 7.2 distracted driving deaths per 10 billion vehicle miles. Tennessee’s rate is nearly five times higher than the national average of 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles.

In order to reduce distracted driving deaths, effective July 1, Tennessee became the 19th state to ban cellphone use while driving.  The campaign “Hands Free Tennessee” was launched to educate Tennessee drivers on exactly what that means.  The following link explains in more detail:  https://www.handsfreetn.com/

The campaign’s goal is to eliminate distracted driving-related fatalities and injuries in Tennessee. The campaign breaks down specifics of the law, explaining it will be illegal to:

  • Hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of the body
  • Write, send or read any text-based communication
  • Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt
  • Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device
  • Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device

Drivers are allowed to use GPS to navigate. If the phone is mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard, windshield or center console, drivers can use one swipe or tap to turn a feature on or off.

In adopting this new law, Tennessee hopes to lower the state’s distracted driving statistics by having drivers put down their phones and focus on the road instead.

Information courtesy of the Tennessean.

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