Parents and students in Tennessee will soon need to think twice before picking up the phone while driving. Beginning in January, a statewide cellphone ban will be enacted inside of school zones. The ban will not only apply to taking phone calls, but also texting and holding a phone, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
“If you are holding a phone up to your ear while driving in a school zone, it’s illegal (next year),” said Jeremy Wall, who works as a resource officer at Dickson County High School and also helps direct traffic at the high school in the mornings.
The bill was sponsored by state Sens. Jim Tracy (R) and John Holsclaw (R).
“You should be concentrating on reducing your speed limit and paying attention. You have children walking and a lot of traffic around,” said Tracy. “Eventually, as technology gets better, everything will be hands-free.”
Tracy defended the bill by saying that many of his constituents were interested in legislation to attempt to combat the use of cellphones while driving.
According to Wall, distracted drivers who are on their phones lead to traffic build-up and delays.
“When someone has the phone to their ear talking, they are so engrossed in that conversation -- they are looking left, they are looking right. And the whole time I am standing there motioning for them to come out,” he told the News Sentinel. “[And] if there is a line of cars, and someone is sitting way back because they are looking at their phone. Guess what I am going to do? I am going to the next rotation. I am going to this group (of vehicles) and bring them on in.”
Drivers who break the law will face a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $50. If a driver is over 18 years of age, they may use a hands-free setup to talk on the phone. Younger drivers can’t use their phones at all.
According to a February report by WTVF, the National Safety Council named Tennessee the state with the most cellphone-related road fatalities in America.