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Proposed law would repeal hands-free driving law in Tennessee

The lawmaker thinks trying to get around the law is actually making drivers more distracted behind the wheel.

One of the most impactful laws passed in Tennessee in 2019 was the Hands-Free Tennessee Act, which made it illegal to talk on your phone while driving.

Now, a state lawmaker wants to repeal it.

Senator Jon Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol, filed SB1751 on Tuesday. As introduced, it repeals the hands-free law and returns the law to what it was previously.

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The law, prohibiting the use of hand-held telephones, went into effect on July 1, 2019. Essentially, drivers are not allowed to hold an electronic device in their hands for any reason while the car is in motion, including navigation. They may use hands-free devices like Bluetooth or a smartwatch to take calls.

Sen. Lundberg told 10News that every law that is passed should create a safer environment, and he doesn't think this one is hitting the mark.

"Most of what we do in the legislature should be primarily about safety. I disagreed with this at the time, because I think when you are talking on the phone you can still look around. It's different than texting," he said.

He said he knows that people are still using their phones, and in a way that's much more dangerous.

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RELATED: How effective has Tennessee's hands-free law been in its first month?

"Instead of picking up the phone and holding it like this [in front of their face], they are holding it much further away to dial so people can't see they are on their phone," he said. "So it's making them more distracted."

Lundberg said he'd if the bill is successful, he'd consider other, more site-specific driver safety legislation.

He'd want to focus more on cell phone safety within places like school or work zones.

"We all want people to be absolutely focused on the road and the environment there," he said.

RELATED: Here's how many tickets were issued across East Tennessee during the first week of the hands-free law

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The bill has just been introduced so there is a long way to go before it could be passed.

Tennessee was ranked the worst state for cell phone distracted driving deaths, according to a study released last year, but law enforcement officials believe the new law could help lower that statistic.