Local 24 News political analyst & commentator Otis Sanford on Tennessee’s new Hands-Free law


KEEP YOUR EYES FOCUSED ON THE ROADS. IT’S THE KEY MESSAGE IN THE HANDS-FREE LAW … THAT TOOK EFFECT YESTERDAY IN TENNESSEE. BUT THE GOAL OF THE DRIVING LEGISLATION… GOES MUCH DEEPER. HERE’S LOCAL 24 POLITICAL ANALYST OTIS SANFORD’S POINT OF VIEW. OTIS SANFORD/REPORTIN G: IT’S CALLED THE HANDS FREE LAW. BUT A BETTER NAME JUST MIGHT BE THE LIFE-SAVING LAW. IT IS ONE OF SEVERAL NEW STATE MEASURES THAT WENT INTO EFFECT MONDAY. BUT NONE WILL HAVE MORE IMPACT THAN BANNING THE USE OF HAND HELD CELLPHONES WHILE DRIVING. THINK ABOUT IT. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SPOTTED SOMEONE IN TRAFFIC HOLDING A CELLPHONE IN ONE HAND AND TRYING TO NAVIGATE A BUSY STREET WITH THE OTHER HAND? MAYBE THAT SOMEONE WAS YOU. WELL NOW, IT’S A MISDEMEANOR CRIME IN TENNESSEE. AND I SAY, IT’S ABOUT TIME. DISTRACTED DRIVERS ACCOUNTED FOR NEARLY 25 THOUSAND CRASHES STATEWIDE LAST YEAR – AND MORE THAN A QUARTER OF THOSE OCCURRED IN SHELBY COUNTY. IN FACT, THERE HAVE BEEN JUST OVER 56 THOUSAND DISTRACTION- RELATED CRASHES IN SHELBY COUNTY OVER THE PAST DECADE – MORE THAN TWICE THE NUMBER REPORTED IN DAVIDSON COUNTY, ACCORDING TO STATE FIGURES. THE HANDS-FREE LAW REQUIRES DRIVERS TO USE EARPIECES OR BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY THROUGH THEIR VEHICLE WHEN MAKING OR RECEIVING CALLS. VIOLATORS WILL BE FINED UP TO $50 DOLLARS FOR THE FIRST TWO OFFENSES, BUT THE PENALTY COULD GO AS HIGH AS $200 DOLLARS IF A DRIVER IS CAUGHT HOLDING A PHONE IN A ROAD CONSTRUCTION OR SCHOOL ZONE. WITHOUT QUESTION, MOTORISTS WITH A CELLPHONE IN HAND ARE A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER ON OUR STREETS AND FREEWAYS. KUDOS TO THE LEGISLATURE FOR TRYING – TO PUT A STOP TO IT. AND THAT’S MY POINT OF VIEW. I’M OTIS SANFORD, FOR LOCAL 24 NEWS.

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