Ramsey pans ban on cell phones while driving

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says he opposes an effort to make it a crime to speak on handheld phones while driving in Tennessee.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. of Elizabethton would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine to use a mobile phone while driving. Drivers would still be able to use hands-free devices to make calls.

Ramsey said the state’s ban on texting while driving goes far enough. He said distracted driving is already a traffic offense in Tennessee.

The House version of the bill advanced out of the Transportation Committee on Tuesday after a contentious debate. It would have to clear the House Criminal Justice Committee before heading for the floor.

The Senate Transpiration Committee takes up the bill next week.

Note: The bill is HB1566, sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in the Senate.