Georgia's Hands Free law could soon come to Tennessee
Tennessee lawmakers continue to look at a bill that would make talking on the phone while driving illegal in the state.
A similar law passed in Georgia last July.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, law enforcement has issued 12,646 citations for violating the Hands-free law in Georgia from July 1st, 2018 to March 28th of this year.
To see the effect of the Georgia law, we met with a UTC student who says using Bluetooth is now a must.
"I have my phone secured and put away," says Mika Clark.
He says he had to learn the hard way. "I was aware of the rule when it passed."
In fact, it was only a few weeks after Georgia's 'Hands Free' law hit the books, when Mika says he pulled out of his boss' driveway and made it about 100 feet.
"I got on my phone to call my mother, I believe, and I got pulled over," says Mika.
The current law in Tennessee prohibits using a phone in a school zone, but this new bill would expand that law making it similar to Georgia's.
The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) says when they see a phone in hand, they are quick to catch that person.
"We're trying to crack down on distracted driving," says GSP Trooper Brian Dedman.
We dug into the numbers and found that Georgia has seen more traffic deaths than Tennessee so far this year, even with Georgia's new law on the books.
"You cannot have your hand on your cellphone at any time. It has to be Bluetooth," says Trooper Dedman.
Back at UTC, Mika says if the hands free law is passed in Tennessee, he'll be ready. "I only want that ticket once," he says.
Tennessee's new proposal increases the maximum fine to $100, which may be increased to $200 if the violation results in an accident. This bill also increases the maximum court costs for a violation to $50, and changes the nature of the violation from a nonmoving violation to a moving violation.
If passed, the bill will take effect January 1, 2020.