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Tennessee Lawmakers Debate Penalties for Distracted Driving

A male motorist holds a cellphone with its screen illuminated while in heavy traffic to indicate distracted driving.

Nashville drivers reminded to stay alert and stay safe during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

With the arrival of spring in Nashville, our attention turns to outdoor activities and enjoying the longer days. However, it's crucial to remember that April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as distracted driving continues to be a growing problem in Tennessee and throughout the nation. According to News Channel 5, Tennessee had an average of 55 car accidents per day involving distracted driving last year.

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    Likewise, the latest data from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security shows that between February 2022 and January 2023, a crash was caused by a distracted driver every 25 minutes, on average.

    To address this issue, Tennesee lawmakers have proposed a new bill with stricter penalties for distracted driving.

    Understanding the "Eddie Conrad Act"

    The death of Middle Tennessee businessman Eddie Conrad in a car crash caused by a distracted driver has prompted a new bill in the Tennessee State Senate that would lead to tougher penalties for texting and driving. In 2020, Conrad was waiting to make a turn when a distracted driver rear-ended him. The impact pushed his vehicle into oncoming traffic. His wife and grandchildren survived the crash, but tragically, Conrad did not.

    Since then, Conrad's family and friends have raised awareness about the dangers of distracted driving through billboards and other campaigns. In Conrad's honor, State Sen. Mark Pody has introduced the "Eddie Conrad Act," which would increase the number of points charged to a driver's record for using a wireless device while driving, with drivers under 18 facing more stringent penalties.

    More than 20,000 people were involved in a crash with a distracted driver in Tennessee in 2020, according to the group "Hands Free Tennessee." In addition, a recent study listed Tennessee as having the highest rate of distracted driving deaths in the U.S. The state's average was almost five times the national average.

    The risks posed by distracted driving cannot be overstated, and unfortunately, it remains a common occurrence on our roads. A recent incident on Trinity Lane serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of this dangerous driving behavior. Despite pylons and warning signs, a distracted driver collided with a service truck, injuring three traffic control workers and an off-duty police officer. While one of the workers was released from the hospital after a short stay, not all victims of distracted driving are as fortunate.

    What is distracted driving?

    Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. There are four types of distractions that drivers should know:

    • Visual Distractions: These involve taking one's eyes off the road. Examples include:
      • Looking at a phone or GPS device while driving
      • Reading a map or directions
      • Gazing at billboards or other roadside distractions
      • Turning to look at passengers or objects in the car
    • Manual Distractions: These involve taking one's hands off the steering wheel. Examples include:
      • Eating or drinking while driving
      • Adjusting the radio or climate controls
      • Texting or typing on a phone
      • Grooming or applying makeup
    • Cognitive Distractions: These involve taking one's mind off of driving. Examples include:
      • Daydreaming or getting lost in thought
      • Arguing with passengers or on the phone
      • Listening to loud music or engaging in intense conversations
      • Being overly fatigued or stressed
    • Auditory Distractions: These involve sounds that distract the driver's attention. Examples include:
      • Loud music or conversations
      • Noisy passengers or children
      • Navigation instructions or other alerts
      • Emergency sirens or horns

    It's worth noting that texting and driving is particularly dangerous because it involves three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. When a driver looks down at their phone to read or send a text, they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their mind off of driving. This significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries, as the driver's reaction time is slowed, and they may not see hazards or changes in traffic conditions.

    Remember, if a driver takes their eyes off the road for just 5 seconds to read or send a text at a speed of 55 miles per hour, they will have driven the length of a football field without looking at the road. This means they could miss important traffic signals, road signs, or hazards during that time, resulting in a serious accident. In fact, texting while driving is estimated to be six times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Hit by a distracted driver in Nashville? Trust the Law Office of Eric Beasley to fight for the compensation you deserve

    Distracted driving is a serious issue that poses a significant risk to drivers and other road users alike. From texting and talking on the phone to eating behind the wheel, even a momentary lapse in attention can have tragic consequences. At the Law Office of Eric Beasley, we understand the devastating impact that distracted driving can have on the people of Nashville and communities throughout Middle Tennesee. That's why we're committed to helping those who have been affected by this reckless behavior.

    Our experienced legal team is dedicated to getting the best possible outcome for our clients. We have a proven track record of building strong cases and fighting for the compensation our clients deserve. When you choose our law firm to represent you, you can trust that we will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for your case. Don't wait to get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how an experienced Nashville, TN car accident lawyer can help you.

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