5 Tennessee Distracted Driving Facts You Need to Know
Out of the over 250,000 annual car accidents that happen in Tennessee, most of them are caused by distracted drivers. Many of these accidents could have been avoided if the driver had been keeping their attention focused on driving instead of their phone, which is one of the leading distractions from safe driving. In order to keep everyone safe on the road, it’s important to know the severity of the consequences of distracted driving. Here are 5 Tennessee distracted driving facts that you need to know:
1. Tennessee Has Been Cited as the Worst State for Distracted Driving
In recent years, Tennessee has been cited as the worst state for distracted driving in the US. Within the ten years between 2008 and 2018, over 200,000 accidents happened as a result of distracted driving. Every year, distracted driving in Tennessee claims 460 lives, fives times the national average. In 2018 alone, there were over 18,000 distracted driving incidents in the state. If you’re driving in Tennessee, it is imperative that you remain focused on the road and avoid any form of distracted driving while you’re behind the wheel.
2. Handheld Cell Phone Usage While Driving is Prohibited in Tennessee
Due to these unfortunate statistics, Tennessee lawmakers banned handheld phone usage while driving in July of 2019. No part of your body may support your cellphone or any other wireless device while you’re driving. Reading, writing, or sending text messages, as well as recording or broadcasting videos is prohibited. If you are under the age of 18 or only have your learner’s permit, all use of your cellphone is prohibited, even hands free.
3. There are Select Exceptions to Distracted Driving Laws
Tennessee distracted driving laws do have a few exceptions, however. You may use your GPS or dash cams while driving. If you are 18 years of age or older you can send and receive texts as long as you are using voice-activated or hands-free methods. You cannot be charged for distracted driving if you’re using your device to contact emergency services. Similarly, emergency services, such as law enforcement and or medical assistance, cannot be charged for using their devices while operating their jobs.
4. There is a Difference in Primary and Secondary Enforcement of Distracted Driving
You may be asking, “What is the difference in primary and secondary enforcement?” Primary enforcement of distracted driving is when a law enforcement officer can pull you over when they see you directly violating state distracted driving laws. Secondary enforcement is when a law enforcement officer can cite you for violating distracted driving laws, only if you were already breaking another law in the process. Most people don’t know that there is a difference in the two, making this one of the most important distracted driving facts. Tennessee uses primary enforcement, so you aren’t protected from these citations even if you’re obeying every other law.
5. There are Penalties for Distracted Driving in Tennessee
When you are cited for distracted driving, you are facing a Class C misdemeanor. After your first and second citations, you can face a fine of up to $50 and up to $10 in court costs. After your third, the fine jumps to $100. If you’re distracted driving results in an accident, you can immediately be charged $100 or $200 if the accident occurred in a construction, work, or school zone. If you don’t want to pay your fine after your first offense, you can attend a drivers education course instead. Unfortunately, you will still have demerit points added to your driving record.
Now that you know these distracted driving facts, we hope you’ll be more careful and attentive next time you’re on the road. If you’re driving in Tennessee, remember that there are laws and penalties put in place for those who violate these rules. Do you have any more questions about Tennessee distracted driving laws? Contact us and let one of our experienced lawyers help you with any questions you may have.