The Tennessee Highway Patrol wants citizens to be aware of the state’s ‘Hands-Free Law’ that goes into effect next Monday.
Cookeville Captain R.C. Christian said the law will provide a challenge to both residents and law enforcement.
“It’s going to be… a pretty big transition for us when this Hands-Free Law goes into effect regarding using your cell phones while driving,” Christian said. “I guess we just want people to be mindful of that. We’ll probably have a period of time where we’ll just use warnings for that, then we’ll probably start with some stricter enforcement.”
Governor Bill Lee officially signed House Bill 0164 into law in late-May after it passed both the State House and Senate. The law prevents drivers citizens from holding a cell phone or mobile device with their hands while driving.
Christian said citizens won’t be the only ones who will have to adjust to the new law.
“We’re going to adjust to it and we’re going to adjust our jobs to it. We’re going to adjust as well with the way we do things,” Christian said. “I know we have exemptions as law enforcement and doing the things we do, but at the same time if we’re not setting the standard and the example, it’s hard for [citizens] to expect us to enforce the law if we’re not setting the standard ourselves.”
Christian said he hopes the new law will help cut down on distracted-driving incidents across the state.
“If it saves one life, it’s been worth the effort that’s taken place,” Christian said. “If it makes our roadways safer then that’s our goal. That’s what we come to work for every day.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports over 150 distracted driving incidents have occurred across the Upper Cumberland in 2019, while more than 6,800 incidents have occurred over the last decade. Jackson County is one of four counties in the state that have not had a reported distracted-driving incident this year.