As the busy summer months fall behind us, many of our readers have been busy celebrating the holidays, planning summer camp excursions, insuring their teenage drivers, or hitting the road with an RV or camper in tow.
If you are a Tennessee resident or a potential visitor to the Volunteer State this season, it is important to be aware that the new Hands Free Law – referred to as Hands Free Tennessee – PC0412 – is now in effect, as of July 1, 2019.
Why a New Hands Free Law?
Our John Bailey Company team covered the topic of Distracted Driving Awareness in April of last year. We invite you to reread this blog post, as it offers valuable statistics and helpful suggestions. A more recent statistic has been offered by Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro this April: “Tennessee is first in the nation for distracted driving deaths involving cellphones.” The vote was taken, following House approval earlier in April, and the Senate approved the ban 23-7.
In February 28, 2019, ValuePenquin published an article, “The Worst States for Distracted Driving.” Yes, Tennessee ranked #1!
“Our study found that Tennessee had the highest rate [7.20] of distracted driving fatalities, nearly five times the national average of 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles. Tennessee’s laws regarding cellphones and driving are fairly strict – however, they do not ban the handheld use of cellphones for all drivers.”
Enter Hands Free Tennessee – PC0412.
What is the Tennessee Hands Free Law?
Here are the basics:
According to Public Chapter No. 412, it is illegal for a driver to:
(a) hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,
(b) write, send, or read any text-based communication,
(c) 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,
(d) watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and
(e) record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.
To learn more, we invite you to visit the Hands Free Tennessee website. This is an educational tool provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, along with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The Frequently Asked Questions section provides details of any exceptions to the law, such as provisions permitting phone use for members of law enforcement, first responders, or utility services providers.
A violation of PC0412 is a Class C misdemeanor and is considered a moving traffic violation. The law includes the following fines:
• $50 = First-time offense
• $100 = Third-time offense or higher; violation results in a car crash
• $200 = Violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present; violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation
It is important to consider that hands free violations could be even more expensive than an accompanied speeding violation.
WREG-TV (Memphis) published this news story.
If you are having trouble viewing the video you can watch it here.
Hands Free Law Violations and Your Auto Insurance Rates
Whenever a new law takes effect, particularly one directly related to your driving habits, it is a good idea to consider how your insurance rates could be impacted as a result of a violation. For example, CarInsurance.com offers helpful information regarding texting tickets and car insurance on a state-by-state basis. Many factors contribute to rate changes, including state laws and policies of your insurer. Tennesseans saw an average rate increase of 17% after a texting ticket. Additionally, this violation type can add points to your driving record.
John Bailey Company is here to help you insure a great life. We invite our present and future clients to contact us to discuss auto insurance needs. And let’s remember to spread the word: Hands Free Tennessee!