Next month is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Unfortunately, Tennessee has a poor track record of keeping its eyes on the road. According to data collected by The Tennessee Department of Safety, Davidson, Rutherford, and Williamson Counties had a combined total of 5363 distracted driving crashes in 2017 and 3766 in 2018. Nashville-area NBC affiliate WSMV reported last year, “Williamson County ranks third in Tennessee with 6.19 distracted driving crashes per year, a 129% increase since 2008. Rutherford County is No. 5 with 5.56 crashes per year. Wilson and Davidson County both follow closely behind.”
Driving while texting or doing other tasks that divert full attention from the road comes with not only a potential safety toll, but a financial one, as well. The Zebra is the nation’s leading insurance comparison website. Its 2018 Distracted Driving Report reveals, “for the first time since the advent of cell phones, car insurance companies are penalizing drivers who text or use their cell phones while driving. In fact, the average insurance penalty is up nearly 8,000% since 2011 – and it’s costing some people hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their annual premium.”
The State of Tennessee enacted Public Chapter Number 412, also known as “Hands Free Tennessee,” which took effect on July 1, 2019. (A full copy of the legislation can be found here.) However, whether the latest law has an impact on reducing the number of distracted driving accidents remains to be seen. According to an investigative team with WSMV, similar legislation passed in Tennessee in 2009 failed to help the problem, due in part to a lack of enforcement and difficulty in proving texting was directly a factor in individual accidents, as most drivers in accidents are reticent to admit they were not paying full attention to the road.
How can Middle Tennessee drivers best keep themselves focused and alert while driving? Some practical steps include:
using handsfree devices while driving;
pulling over and coming to a complete stop in a safe place before engaging in any activity that would divert any attention from driving; and
staying off the road and utilizing public or other means of transportation if you find your cognitive state is in any way impaired.
If you’ve already found yourself under penalty for driving while distracted and noticed an increase in your premiums, contact Johnston & Associates today. Scott and his team of independent insurance agents represent multiple companies and will find coverage tailor-made to your needs and budget. With a quarter of a century of experience in the insurance business, they are equipped to help the residents of Brentwood, Fairview, Franklin, Nashville, Spring Hill, and the rest of Middle Tennessee get the perfect solution for their coverage concerns, whether it be automobile, commercial, homeowners, or renter’s insurance. Reach out to the agency whose attention is always fixed, first and foremost, on you.