Attorney Mark Nolan: Tennessee Soon to Have 'Hands-Free' Driving Starting July 1, 2019

New bills (HB 0165 and SB 0173) make it unlawful to use hands-free mobile devices while driving in Tennessee.

Batson Nolan PLC

​​​As the Batson Nolan law firm’s Managing Member, Mark Nolan says, “We’ve been hearing about legislative efforts to protect Tennesseans on the road for some time now. We hope this new law will work to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and cause drivers to think twice before texting and driving.

Both houses of Tennessee’s General Assembly passed a bill that requires drivers to use hands-free devices or a personal digital assistant while driving in the state. Representative John Holsclaw (Rep) with HB 0165 and Senator Swann (Rep) with SB 0173 succeeded in getting their bills passed, and the law takes effect on July 1, 2019.

Right now, Tennessee prohibits the use of hand-held mobile devices while in a vehicle in school zones when flashers are activated. Anyone that violates that law receives a non-moving traffic violation, which does not apply points but does result in a Class C misdemeanor punishable with fines. Also, the current law makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to use a mobile device, even hands-free, while operating a motor vehicle.

The new law more clearly defines “hands-free,” and now extends the requirement for motorists to not only be hands-free near school zones, but on any road, interstate, or highway in the state. 

Mobile device usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and even fatalities. Looking down at a mobile phone screen for even a quick “check” is all it takes for a car to veer into another lane or to hit a pedestrian on the roadway. Batson Nolan represents clients injured in these very types of events.

Hands-free devices keep a driver’s hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Today, mobile devices are advanced enough that hands-free systems can read text messages aloud, make calls without the driver having to touch the phone physically, and even respond to emails.

To qualify as a true “hands-free” device, the law requires that the driver does not have to hold or support the mobile phone with any part of their body. Likewise, writing, sending, and reading messages cannot be done unless entirely hands-free. And drivers cannot engage in watching videos, movies, or recordings. The device will be considered “hands-free” if the driver does not have to use their hands or removed their eyes from the road.

With the new bill going into effect here shortly, many Tennesseans hope that more lives will be saved and fewer accidents will occur from distracted driving.

About Batson Nolan: Batson Nolan has been helping clients in Tennessee since 1860. With decades of experience, their law firm handles cases involving personal injury law, mediation, business law, real estate, and litigation. Visit their website to learn more about their legal services.

Batson Nolan PLC
121 S 3rd St
Clarksville, TN 37040
(931) 647-1501

Source: Batson Nolan PLC

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