Legislator would ban cell phone talking while driving

News release from Rep. John Holsclaw
(NASHVILLE) — Tennessee already has laws on the books banning texting while driving, but the legislature will soon consider banning talking on a cell phone while driving, unless it is hands-free.

Under legislation soon to be filed by State Representative John Holsclaw (R–Elizabethton), drivers would no longer be able to legally talk and drive using a handheld cellphone, but could still use the phone if it is in hands-free mode.

The use of cellphones while driving has long been a source of contention not only in Tennessee, but across the nation. Currently, talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is completely banned in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The use of cellphones by those with driver permits is restricted in 37 states and D.C. Text messaging is banned in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Right now in Tennessee, adults can still hold their phones and drive at the same time, as long as they are not texting or emailing. However, law enforcement officials have said it is almost impossible to enforce the texting ban since drivers can still lawfully hold a cellphone while driving.

In 2015 alone, 1,336 car crashes in Tennessee have been attributed to distracted driving due to cellphone usage.

Representative Holsclaw stated, “This is the next step in doing what is necessary to curb distracted driving and keep Tennessee roads safe.” Under Holsclaw’s legislation, a violation of the law would be punishable by up to a $50 fine.

The citation would be considered a nonmoving traffic violation and no points would be added to a driver’s record.

For revenues collected under the new law, Holsclaw is currently examining ways to use the money to fund drivers education courses for high schoolers or possible other drivers safety programs. “My intent with proposing this legislation is to save lives and make our roads safer for your family and mine”, said Holsclaw.

John Holsclaw is a member of the House Business & Utilities Committee and Subcommittee, along with the House Health Committee. He lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and Carter Counties.