KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - When Steffanie Greer said she supports the hands-free rule for phones in Tennessee cars, she was speaking from experience.
"I recently got rear ended and the girl was on her cellphone,"she said.
Greer already uses Bluetooth technology to activate the phone with her steering wheel and voice.
"So I just push a button on my steering wheel and it recognizes my phone and I can talk and tell it what to do."She added that going through so many steps with the voice technology is what takes the most patience.
What do you do if you don't have Bluetooth?
Because Pegatha McKeon's car is a few years older, she is still searching for an affordable Bluetooth setup to use while driving. For now, she is satisfied with the clip-on holder for her phone to help her keep drive safely.
McKeon visits family from across the state line in North Carolina.
"It just slips right on there, pops my phone in just like that and I just plug it into my charger and stuff and I can see my GPS really clearly."McKeon said she bought the vent clip at an office store for around $20. Similar devices sell for around $5 at a discount store.
Daniel Curtis said he doesn't even bother answering the phone in his car.
"While I'm driving, I don't use it at all, no. If I'm listening to music or something, I'll turn it on before I leave the house, wherever I'm going, no I don't use it."Curtis said becoming a dad influenced his urge to drive without a phone even earlier.
"Even before the law, I wouldn't be on the phone with her in the car."
Here is what the Tennessee General Assembly posts about the state's traffic safety law:
"Under present law, it is a Class C misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of up to $50.00, plus court costs not to exceed $10.00, for any person to knowingly operate a motor vehicle in any marked school zone in this state, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion. A violation under present law is a nonmoving traffic violation and no points may be added to a driver record for the violation.
Also, under present law, it is a delinquent act for a person under 18 years of age to knowingly operate a motor vehicle on any road or highway in Tennessee and talk on a mobile telephone that is equipped with a hands-free device while the vehicle is in motion.
This bill makes the prohibition against operating a motor vehicle while talking on a hand-held mobile telephone for persons aged 18 years and older applicable on roads and highways in Tennessee while the vehicle is in motion.
This bill clarifies that it is an offense for a person less than 18 years of age to knowingly operate a motor vehicle on any road or highway in Tennessee and talk on a mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion, regardless of whether a hands-free device is used.
This bill increases the maximum fine amount to $100, which may be increased to $200 if the violation results in an accident. This bill increases the maximum court costs for a violation to $50.00. This bill changes the nature of a violation from a nonmoving violation to a moving violation.
This bill takes effect January 1, 2020.
ON APRIL 17, 2019, THE HOUSE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 164, AS AMENDED.
AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill; and rewrites the present law provisions governing use of a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant to transmit or read written message while driving, use of hand-held mobile telephone in marked school zones, and prohibited use of mobile telephone with hands-free device by person under 18, so that the law will be as discussed below.
Under this amendment, a person will be prohibited from doing the following while operating a motor vehicle on any road or highway in this state:
(1) Physically holding or supporting, with any part of the person's body, a:
(A) Wireless telecommunications device; however, a person 18 years of age or older may use an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice-based communication; and may use a one button on a wireless telecommunications device to initiate or terminate a voice communication; or
(B) Stand-alone electronic device;
(2) Writing, sending, or reading any text-based communication, including, but not limited to, a text message, instant message, email, or internet data on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device; however a person 18 years of age or older may use such devices: to automatically convert a voice-based communication to be sent as a message in a written form; or for navigation of the motor vehicle through use of a device's global positioning system;
(3) Reaching for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be: in a seated driving position; or properly restrained by a safety belt;
(4) Watching a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device other than viewing data related to the navigation of the motor vehicle; and
(5) Recording or broadcasting video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device; however, this provision does not apply to electronic devices used for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle.
In addition to the above-described exceptions to the prohibited conduct, the following will also be allowed under this amendment: a function or feature of a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device may be activated or deactivated in a manner requiring the physical use of the driver's hand while the driver is operating a motor vehicle if:
(A) The wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device is mounted on the vehicle's windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver's view of the road; and
(B) The driver's hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device with the motion of one swipe or tap of the driver's finger, and does not activate camera, video, or gaming features or functions for viewing, recording, amusement, or other non-navigational functions, other than features or functions related to the transportation of persons or property for compensation or payment of a fee.
A violation of this amendment will be a Class C misdemeanor, subject only to imposition of a fine not to exceed $50.00. However, if the violation is the person's third or subsequent offense or if the violation results in an accident, the fine will be $100; or if the violation occurs in a work zone when employees of the department of transportation or construction workers are present or in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, the fine will be $200. A violator will be subject to the imposition of court costs not to exceed $10.00, including, but not limited to, any statutory fees of officers. State and local litigation taxes will not be applicable to a case prosecuted under this amendment. In lieu of any fine imposed, a first time offender may attend and complete a driver education course.
This amendment does not apply to the following persons:
(1) Officers of this state or of any county, city, or town charged with the enforcement of the laws of this state, or federal law enforcement officers when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
(2) Campus police officers and public safety officers when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
(3) Emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician-paramedics, and firefighters, both volunteer and career, when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
(4) Emergency management agency officers of this state or of any county, city, or town, when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
(5) Persons using a wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property;
(6) Employees or contractors of utility services providers acting within the scope of their employment; or
(7) Persons who are lawfully stopped or parked in their motor vehicles or who lawfully leave standing their motor vehicles.
A traffic citation that is based solely upon a violation of this amendment will be considered a moving traffic violation.
This amendment directs the department of safety to include distracted driving as part of the instructional information used in driver education training.
This amendment changes the effective date to July 1, 2019."