Distracted driving, particularly cell phone use behind the wheel, is a significant safety issue in Tennessee. As reported by the Tennessean in 2019, data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found that the state’s rate of auto fatalities involving cell phone use between 2015 and 2017 was about five times the national average.
Take steps to protect yourself and others on the road by breaking the distracted driving habit.
Follow the law
The state’s Hands-Free Tennessee law prohibits drivers from:
- Holding a mobile device or cell phone with any body part while behind the wheel
- Unhooking the seat belt and/or leaving the seat to reach for a cell phone or other mobile device
- Reading, writing or sending text messages, direct messages and emails
- Watching, broadcasting or recording a video or movie
Store your phone in a safe place such as the glove box while you are driving to avoid the temptation to respond to notifications.
Limit the number of passengers
Having a full car can be a major driving distraction, especially for new drivers. If you travel with a large group, stay focused on the road and try not to join the conversation. Tennessee has a graduated driver’s license program for teens. Under this law, drivers with a permit or an intermediate restricted license can only drive with one passenger who is younger than 21.
Get ready before you go
Place everything you may need during your drive within reach before you hit the road. Store loose items that can create a distraction by moving around within your vehicle. Program your GPS so you can safely navigate to your destination and choose a playlist or audiobook to listen to before you hit the road. Check the mirrors and make sure your seat is comfortably adjusted.
You should also eat before leaving or plan to dine after you arrive. Eating behind the wheel takes your attention off the road, especially with messy items, and can cause a serious accident.