Despite the passage of specific distracted driving laws in Tennessee, traffic accidents caused by distracted driving remain a serious issue in the state. Every 24 seconds in the United States there is a crash involving drivers using cellphones and texting, and in Tennessee the rate of car accidents involving distracted driving is higher than the national average.
But, what is distracted driving? Distracted driving is any task that removes a driver's eyes from the road, hands from the wheel, or mind from the primary task of safe driving. Texting and handheld cellphone use while behind the wheel are two of the most pernicious forms of distracted driving because the tasks involve all three forms of distraction. When texting or using a handheld cellphone, a driver removes his or her eyes from the road to focus on the text message or dialing, removes his or her hands to manipulate the cellphone, and removes his or her concentration from driving to focus on conversation. It does not take long for repercussions to follow.
A texting driver removes his or her eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. At 55 miles per hour, the driver's vehicle travels the entire length of a football field during that time. Moreover, researchers have found that when a driver concentrates on texting or handheld phone use, brain activity associated with the task of driving declines by nearly 40 percent. Finally, texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, the VTTI study shows. It's therefore clear that multitasking while driving is not just inefficient, but also extremely dangerous.
Even though distracted driving is a clear threat to the safety of drivers, passengers and other users of the road, drivers in Tennessee continue to engage in the dangerous driving habit. According to the most recent statistics, more than 3,000 people were killed because of cellphone use while driving and more than 400,000 were injured. In Tennessee, the number of car accidents is on the rise and approximately 20 percent of traffic crashes in Tennessee involve cellphone use, which is 2 percent higher than the national average.
To encourage the reduction of traffic crashes caused by distracted driving, Tennessee adopted a number of laws aimed specifically at the issue. In Tennessee it is against the law for all drivers to text while behind the wheel, and while there is no handheld ban prohibiting handheld cellphone use while driving in Tennessee, there is a specific handheld ban that applies to school bus drivers and teen drivers who have learner or intermediate licenses.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving distracted driving, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can review your legal options.
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