Citations increase for texting while driving in TN - WSMV News 4

Citations increase for texting while driving in TN

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Tennessee state troopers are writing twice as many tickets for texting while driving, but it seems many drivers are not afraid to break the law.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol handed out 803 citations last year for texting while driving. That's more than twice as many as the year before. But authorities say there are challenges to enforcing the law.

One of the problems officers face in enforcing the law is dialing on a phone looks similar to texting.

"In the texting law it allows you to dial a number," said THP Sgt. Bill Miller.

Sometimes officers simply can't tell.

"You have to have a clear line of sight to see the person texting in the vehicle," Miller said.

Some lawmakers believe a partial cell phone ban would make drivers think twice about picking up the phone.

A bill sponsored by State Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, which would have required drivers to use hands-free devices died in the House last week.

In Oregon, which has enacted the law, officers cited more than 3,500 drivers for breaking it last year alone. The fine there can run up to $500.

"I've been in other states where they had the law and everybody in the car is telling you not to do that, and I don't think we do that here," said driver Martha Farabee.

On the road, it's clear many Tennessee drivers understand the risk but talk and text anyway.

"Is it worth putting your car in a telephone pole to do something that silly?" Farabee said.

Still, a driver can be cited under Tennessee's due-care law for using the internet or GPS on their phone while driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended a ban of all personal electronics behind the wheel.

One driver was so distracted by his phone, he didn't see our news crew riding with Miller near White Bridge Road and Charlotte Avenue.

The driver exceeded the speed limit, took up two lanes and failed to signal, all while typing.

"It's very similar to driving on alcohol or drugs," Miller said.

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