The Tennessee law banning hand-held cell phones went into effect July 1. Drivers can eat, drink, converse, sing, look at roadside sights, talk to their kids in the back seat, and it’s all perfectly legal. Pick up a cell phone, however, and you’re a distracted-driving lawbreaker. Law enforcement and first responders, however, are exempt from the safety measure that the legislature and governor determined is required for Tennessee drivers.The Sentinel is not a fan of the law, mainly because such bans, in effect in some other states for many years, have not once been shown to affect the accident rate at all. They cite a number of such studies.
But it does roll cash into county and state coffers.
At $50 per ticket, the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s cell phone ban enforcement netted, it would appear, a minimum of $21,200 for the 424 tickets the THP wrote in July, Knox News reported. Tickets increase up to $200 depending on the situation.And yet . . .
Yes, the ban here in Tennessee is really just another way to tax people. OTOH, the worst accident scene I ever got called by the sheriff's dept. to go work was directly caused by a young woman driving on a two-lane state highway in Franklin, Tenn. It was before smart phones were invented. She was trying to punch a number into her cell phone and wandered into the other lane. An oncoming 18-wheeler swerved to miss her, bounced back onto the road and went head on into a Chevy pickup behind the woman's car.
The impact was so violent that it completely separated the truck's body from its frame, knocking the truck body 20 or more feet away from the frame assembly, which was solely occupied by the driver, married only three weeks, on his way home from work. He had been ripped into three separate pieces. The 18-wheeler's driver was injured.
The woman phone caller was wholly uninjured but when I spoke with her she was not very coherent. She was still holding the phone in her hand, up next to her head, though of course there was no call connected, and basically just walking in a small circle at the rear of her car.
A highway patrol trooper told me that in his 26 years in the THP, this was the most violent accident he had seen. After seeing the truck driver's remains, I could see why. Before the medical examiner's team went to retrieve the remains, I held a time of prayer and Holy Communion for them (I always took my Communion kit responding to sheriff's department calls).
So I cannot argue with Tennessee's law.