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Distracted Driving and Tennessee Car Accidents

Distracted driving is hardly a new phenomenon. The combination of significantly more drivers on the roadways and the ubiquitous use of electronic devices, however, makes distracted driving both more prevalent and more dangerous today than it was in the past. Not surprisingly, the number of serious injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving has steadily increased over the past couple of decades. If a distracted driver was wholly, or partially, responsible for injuries you suffered in a collision, you may be entitled to compensation. A Murfreesboro car accident lawyer at Bennett |


Michael | Hornsby discusses distracted driving and Tennessee car accidents.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a motorist’s attention from driving and may include a manual, visual, or cognitive distraction. Taking your hands off the wheel to eat, using an electronic device, or applying makeup are examples of manual distractions. Taking your eyes off the road to talk to a passenger, looking at a cell phone, or “rubber-necking” to look at an accident on the roadways are all visual distractions while daydreaming, focusing on work or home problems, or driving with dementia may qualify as cognitive distractions. 

La Vergne personal injury lawyerHow Often Does Distracted Driving Contribute to Car Accidents?

According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, distracted driving caused or contributed to the loss of 3,142 lives and over 424,000 injuries across the nation in 2020. The use of a cell phone was a factor in:

  • 13 percent (396) of distracted driving accidents that resulted in fatalities – averaging more than one death per day.
  • 9 percent of distracted driving injury crashes, or about 29,999 accidents in total
  • 9 percent of all police-reported distraction-affected crashes, or about 50,098 accidents in total

Once the leading state for distracted driving deaths, Tennessee’s prohibition against texting and driving that went into effect in 2019 seems to have helped as Tennessee has moved down to 15th place. Nevertheless, distracted driving remains a major factor in motor vehicle accidents throughout the state. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS) compiles and publishes data relating to car accidents that occur within the State of Tennessee each year. According to that data:

  • There were 1,327 motor vehicle fatalities and 4,949 fatal or serious injury crashes throughout the state in 2021.
  • A crash involving a distracted driver occurs every 24 minutes.
  • The financial cost of distracted driving accidents was almost $500 million for 2021
  • Drivers in the 20-35-year-old age bracket are significantly more likely to be involved in a distracted driving crash, followed by the 35-49-year-old age bracket.

Distracted Driving Laws in Tennessee

however, drivers do not always obey the law. In fact, TDSHS data tells us that over one in 10 fatal and serious injury crashes continues to involve a distracted driver.

Tennessee passed legislation making it illegal to text and drive in 2019. Governed by TCA 55-8-199, the Tennessee law states, in pertinent part, as follows:

“No person while driving a motor vehicle on any public road or highway shall use a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held personal digital assistant to transmit or read a written message; provided, that a driver does not transmit or read a written message for the purpose of this subsection (b) if the driver reads, selects or enters a telephone number or name in a hand-held mobile telephone or a personal digital assistant for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call.”

A violation of the Tennessee hands-free law is a Class C misdemeanor. Furthermore, if distracted driving contributed to a collision, it could form the basis for a valid personal injury lawsuit against the distracted driver.

Contact a Murfreesboro Car Accident Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about a Tennessee car accident that you believe was caused (in whole or in part) by a distracted driver (or drivers), contact a Murfreesboro car accident lawyer to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael