Law aims to make cell phone use illegal while driving in Tennessee

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A proposed law would make it illegal to use your cell phone while driving in Tennessee unless it’s hands-free.

State Representative John Holsclaw, a Republican from Elizabethton, says he plans on introducing the bill at the next legislative session.

Right now, Tennessee leads the nation for the most fatal crashes caused by cell phone use. The state ranks higher than California and Texas combined, according to the National Security Council.

Doug and Pat Ralls know the impact of those numbers firsthand.

Their son Brian had graduated from the University of Florida in 2009 and landed his first job back home in Nashville.

One October morning on his way to work, a woman driving the opposite way on I-40 heard her phone ring. She reached down to pick up her phone and lost control of her car. She went over the median and hit Brian’s car head on.

He died at the scene at age 23.

“If a law like this would have been in place in 2009, Brian would still be alive,” said Doug Ralls. “If you care about your kids, you want this law to pass. If you care about yourself, you want this law to pass.”

For revenues collected under the new law, Holsclaw is currently examining ways to use the money to fund drivers education courses for high schoolers or possible other drivers safety programs.

“My intent with proposing this legislation is to save lives and make our roads safer for your family and mine”, said Holsclaw.

The National Security Council released data that shows distracted driving kills almost as many people as drunk driving.

Their data also shows that hands-free usage is as detrimental to driving as putting your cell phone to your ear.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reported that so far in 2015 there have been two deaths and 57 incapacitating injuries due to cell phone usage while driving.

Rall said this bill is a start and hopes that it passes.

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