Law enforcement and Tri-Cities residents react to the hands free driving bill passing the Senate

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Tennessee is one step closer to banning handheld devices while driving. The hands free bill passed the Tennessee Senate on Tuesday with a 23-7 vote.

The bill calls for drivers to mound their phones or use a bluetooth device while driving.

The violation is a primary offense, which means police officers can pull a car over if they see a someone driving with a phone in their hand. According to the bills sponsor Rep. Holsclaw of Elizabethton, if the car is not in motion, the driver will not get pulled over for having a phone in their hand.

Fines for the first and second offense are 50 dollars and the third offense goes up to 100 dollars. Holsclaw says driving school is available for your first offense to remove the citation. If the driver is involved in an accident or if they are caught in a construction zone, that fine could go up to 200 dollars.

“Whatever messages you are getting, whether it be a text message or a phone call, it can wait until you get to your location,” said Tom Patton, Kingsport Police Public Information Officer.

Tom Patton with the Kingsport Police Department agrees with legislation aimed at safety, but says there are also many studies that can not prove using a handsfree device will reduce distration.

“But it’s imprtant to note that anything that can distract us, the phone conversation itself can still be a danger,” he said “So even if we are using a hands free device it can still be distracting.”

Tri-Cities residents have mixed reactions as to what the future of Tennessee’s road will hold.

“I think if it became a law it would definately cut down on the amount of people that do look at thier phones,” said Chelsea Parker, Johnson City Resident..

“By saying what the citizens can’t do,  it’s only creating more problems between the form of social control and the police,” said Mitchell Lyle, Johnson City resident.

Rep. Holsclaw of Elizabethton has been pushing for this legislation in Nashville since 2014.

The bill will now head to Governor Bill Lee’s desk. If approved, it will go into effect July 1, 2019.

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