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Bill Banning Phones While Driving Moves Forward

Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 21:44:00-05

A bill that would make it illegal for adults to use a handheld cell phone while driving in Tennessee took one step closer to becoming law.

The State House Transportation Committee recommended the bill pass, following a lot of debate and opinions on both sides of the issue on Tuesday.

Rep. John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton) defended his bill in front of the committee.

The bill would make it a class C misdemeanor – with a penalty of a $50 fine -- if adult drivers talk on their handheld cell phones without it being mounted or using a hands free device.

This restriction already applies to drivers younger than 18 and all drivers are already restricted from texting and driving.

Pat and Doug Ralls spoke to the committee, talking about their son Brian, who died in 2009 when a driver distracted by an incoming call on her cell phone crossed the median on I-40 in between Mt. Juliet and Lebanon and hit Brian's car. 

And while some lawmakers said a handheld cell phone ban goes too far -- others argued that it's worth it to save lives on Tennessee roads.

“Anything we can do to keep my daughter, my mother, my family safe -- no matter if it’s a small invasion of your privacy, or a small invasion or inconvenience, we must do it,” said Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville). 

The bill was approved in the Transportation Committee on a voice vote. It now heads to the Calendar and Rules Committee.