Tennessee Leads Nation in Cellphone-Related Distracted Driving Deaths
Last year, a study that examined cellphone-related distracted driving deaths in the U.S. found that Tennessee had more of these fatalities than any other state. Attempts to pass stricter laws related to the use of cellphones while driving have so far not been successful in the Tennessee Legislature.
According to the study, which was conducted by ValuePenguin and analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1,400 people were killed in the United States between 2015 and 2017 due to distracted driving vehicle accidents attributed to cellphone use. Based on the study, Tennessee was on the top of the list for most cellphone-related distracted driving deaths. Tennessee’s rate quadrupled the national rate and more than doubled that of the next-closest state (Delaware – 3.28).
The rates were calculated using the number of cellphone-related distracted driving fatalities per every 10 billion vehicle miles. The national rate was 1.49 fatalities per every 10 billion vehicle miles, while Tennessee’s rate was 7.20 fatalities per every 10 billion vehicle miles.
Currently, Tennessee law makes it illegal to text while driving and to hold a cellphone while driving in a school zone. Some lawmakers have been pushing to pass tougher laws, such as a Hands-Free Law. This type of law would make it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving anywhere in the state, not just in school zones. Hands-Free laws are said to address gaps in enforcement where either cellphone use is not a primary offense or where officers have trouble distinguishing whether drivers are texting or using their phones for other, still-legal purposes.
Several states in the U.S. have passed Hands-Free laws, and those states tend to have lower rates of distracted driving fatalities. For now, bills containing stricter distracted driving laws have not passed in Tennessee.
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