Tri-Cities lawmakers battle over recently passed hands-free law

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Two Tri-Cities lawmakers are battling over the recently passed Hands-Free Tennessee Law.

The law made it illegal to use a mobile device without hands-free capabilities while driving.

Enacted on July 1, 2019, the Hands-Free Tennessee Act was championed by Tennessee House Rep. John Holsclaw (R – Elizabethton) who fought for the legislation since as early as 2014.

“There was a lot of work and effort put into this bill, and we feel it’s a good bill,” Holsclaw told News Channel 11 Wednesday.

PREVIOUS STORY: Tennessee hands-free bill advances

On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Lundberg (R – Bristol) filed legislation to repeal the hands-free law.

“I understood the rationale of why the Representative introduced it, but I think we’ve had six months to look at the ramifications and frankly doesn’t make our roads safer the way it is,” Lundberg said.

Sen. Lundberg told News Channel 11 that the law is actually encouraging distracted driving since people are actively attempting to hide the fact that they are still using mobile devices while driving.

“They talked about it’s a safety concern, and there are some safety concerns more with texting, rather than talking on the phone and I’ll give you an example, one thing that has happened over the past eight months, where before when we were going to talk on the phone, we would dial a number up here and make that phone call,” he explained. “Now what happens when someone is dialing a phone they hold it way down below their steering wheel, frankly near their knee, where you’re driving and dial that number so that frankly, other people aren’t going to see them. That actually creates a much more dangerous situation than before.”

Sen. Lundberg explained that there are already “common sense statutes in the books,” regarding distracted driving that covers reckless, distracted driving and limits the use of mobile devices in school and construction zones.

Rep. Holsclaw said he will continue to fight for the legislation he has stood for since 2014.

“We’ll fight to continue to keep the roads safer and this bill in place, you know, it’s important to me and it’s important to our constituents to keep the roads safe, I mean it’s, it’s a no-brainer in my opinion,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the proposed bill is set to appear before the Transportation Subcommittee in Nashville.

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