New distracted driving laws are now in effect in Tennessee

Tennessee has passed new distracted driving laws, but they don’t address the changing nature of the problem.

The new year brought with it new laws to Tennessee, some of which take aim at the problem of distracted driving. As WRCB TV reports, 16 new state laws went into effect on January 1, 2018 and two of those laws specifically target traffic safety, specifically the type of headlights that are permitted and where handheld devices can be used while driving. While the changes are certainly positive and are designed to target the growing number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving, they also miss some common distractions, such as in-car infotainment technology.

No smartphones in school zones

The most important change to the law in terms of distracted driving is the ban on cellphones while driving in certain areas. Specifically, drivers in Tennessee are now prohibited from talking on their cellphones while driving through an active school zone. The penalty for doing so is $50.

A more minor change is the color of headlights private citizens can use on their vehicles. Private vehicles are now only permitted to use white or amber headlights. Colored headlights are reserved for police and first responder vehicles. The change is so as to avoid people becoming confused about what they should do if they see a private vehicle with lights that look like a police vehicle.

Distractions not limited to cellphones

The changes, particularly the one concerning no cellphones in school zones, are important in the campaign against distracted driving. However, it is also important to stress that distracted driving is now a much bigger problem than cellphones alone. As CNET reports, a recent AAA Foundation study found that in-car infotainment systems are in many cases just as distracting as texting or talking on a cellphone behind the wheel.

The study tested the infotainment systems of 30 different kinds of vehicles and found that 23 of them were either highly or very highly distracting for drivers. Trying to input commands into the navigation system tended to be the most distracting task for most infotainment systems. Despite these dangers, many such systems are marketed as safety features and there are few laws in the country that address their potential for distracting drivers.

Personal injury law

The threat from distracted and other dangerous drivers is very real. Furthermore, for those who have been hurt in an accident the road to recovery can be a long and arduous one. That's why accident victims need to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon after their accident as possible. An experienced attorney will show clients what legal avenues are open to them and can assist them with pursuing whatever forms of compensation may be available.