KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee goes hands-free while driving at midnight on July 1.
“In the state of Tennessee in Knox County, in particular, we have about 1,000 crashes a year that are contributed to by distracted driving or use of an electronic device,” said Lt. Brian Evans, Knoxville Police Department’s Traffic Services Coordinator.
The new law prohibits drivers from physically holding or supporting any electronic device with any part of their body while driving.
Previous story: Tennessee law banning handheld cellphone use while driving takes effect July 1
“You can use the phone, but it has to be mounted in the vehicle with some type of mount,” Evans said. “You can activate it by voice, but you cannot dial the numbers. So if you have to answer a call you can use one finger to either swipe or accept or decline a call but you won’t be able to make a call.”
That is unless you are using a hands-free device. Some stores, like the Best Buy in West Knoxville, have hands-free dedicated sections ahead of July 1.
“Whether you’re looking for a little node you can plug into your cigarette lighter or headphones that you can just tap once to answer or tap twice to decline calls,” said Micah O’Sullivan with Best Buy’s tech section.
Those nodes range between $20 and $50 and would plug into your cigarette lighter. Then at the sound of your voice, you can have access to Amazon Alexa or a Google Voice Assistant built into your car to control your devices, after you pair it with your phone.
“If you have an older car that still has a CD player, the CD slot mount is what I actually use. There’s a magnetic version that doesn’t put pressure on the side of your phone,so you can pull it on and off when you’re about to get out of the car,” said O’Sullivan.
You can purchase items that mount to your dashboard, windshield or vents. O’Sullivan says it’s all about how much you’re willing to spend and how your car is laid out.
“People don’t realize the task that’s involved – it’s a multi-task divided-attention skill and you can only put so many things on your plate before some of those start to fall off,” said Evans.
If you are found in violation of the law, it’s a class C misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine. From there, it goes up incrementally up to $200 by the third offense. If you’re convicted, it’s a three-point violation on your driver’s license.