Is it Illegal to Text and Drive in Tennessee?

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Man texting while driving. Distracted driving.

Can you text while driving in the state of Tennessee? Not legally.

Status as of July 2020: Since July 1, 2019, it has been illegal to send a text message while driving in the state of Tennessee. The law, PC0412, prohibits driving while holding a cellphone against any part of the body. It also makes it illegal to write, send, or read text-based communications while driving.

The Tennessee Hands-Free Law was put into effect last year. Prior to this law, Tennessee led the country in distracted driving deaths, averaging five times more than the national average between 2015 and 2017. In passing this law, Tennessee became the 19th state to ban handheld cellphones while driving.

Hands-Free Technology

Novice drivers are barred from any type of cellphone use, but experienced drivers can mount their cellphones to the dash or connect to onboard systems. Mounted cellphones can legally be opened with a single swipe. If a phone requires a pin code or cannot be opened with a single swipe, it is illegal to use while driving in Tennessee, even if it’s mounted.

Hands-free technology including Bluetooth and in-car wireless systems can be used to pair a phone with a vehicle. Onboard technology that allows talk-to-text and can be operated without touch is legal to use while driving. Watching videos while operating a vehicle or engaging in other types of distracted driving behaviors – even with hands-free technologies – remains illegal in Tennessee.

Hands-Free DOES NOT Mean Safe

AAA has demonstrated that hands-free technology is no safer than handheld technology when it comes to distraction. In fact, according to their research, it is more distracting to use a hands-free device than it is to use one you are holding onto.

AAA finds the cognitive processes involved in manipulating hands-free technology is more distracting than simply typing on a device. As such onboard electronics may provide a false sense of security. The only way to avoid distraction is to focus entirely on the task of driving.

Contact Us Today

Have you been injured by a distracted driver? Call the Chattanooga office of Herbert Thornbury, Attorney at Law at 423-752-0544 and schedule a complimentary case review today. Herbert Thornbury, Esquire has decades of experience helping victims of serious injury throughout Tennessee.