Bill bans handheld cell phone use while behind the wheel

Posted at 10:47 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 23:47:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill that would make driving while holding a cell phone illegal, sending the measure to Governor Bill Lee's desk.

The bill aims to cut down on distracted driving. According to a recent study, Tennessee leads the nation in cell phone distracted driving deaths.

If the bill is signed into law, drivers would still be able to use their phones while behind the wheel, but they would not be able to physically hold the phone. Drivers could mount their phone on thier dashboard or put the phone in a place like a cupholder. Drivers would also still be able to use features like 'talk-to-text'

"It's great to have these laws in place, but it goes further than that," AAA representative Megan Cooper said, adding that cell phones are a distraction whether they are in a driver's hand or mounted on a dashboard. "Say you're making a phone call, you're using voice to text, your brain, that distraction can linger up to 27 seconds...Even if you have your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, if you're not thinking about driving you're not doing your job as a driver."

Cooper and other experts urge drivers not to just follow the law, but go beyond the minimum and keep their phones off or put away while they are behind the wheel.

Governor Bill Lee indicated he plans to sign the bill into law. If it is signed, it will go into effect in July of this year.