Tennessee prohibits ‘texting’ while driving

| 6/8/2009

Tennessee is the latest state to outlaw texting while driving. The ban takes effect July 1.

Distracted driving is one of the bigger detriments to road safety. The new law in Tennessee is intended to help reduce one of the contributing factors to that problem.

Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law a bill – SB393 – that prohibits people from operating a motor vehicle while reading, typing or sending text messages.

Offenders would face $50 fines and court costs up to $10. Violations would be considered nonmoving traffic violations, which means no points would be added to a person’s driving record.

Emergency personnel would be exempted.

Attempts nationwide to curb the practice of using text-messaging devices while driving have picked up steam in the past couple of years. Advocates for the ban cite a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey that found one in five drivers “texting” while driving. That number nearly doubles for drivers aged 18 to 27.

Opponents said the rule is unnecessary because texting is already covered under the state’s distracted driving law.

Supporters said law enforcement still could issue tickets for distracted driving violation, in addition to texting while driving.

In addition to Tennessee, states that have banned texting include Alaska, California, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Tennessee in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.