KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is warning drivers to make sure they are in compliance with the new hands-free law that started July 1, because the agency is now going to start cracking down on violators.
THP made the announcement in a Facebook post Wednesday. It's ending any 'grace period' from enforcement of the law over Labor Day weekend.
That means state troopers will begin to strictly enforce it.
Trooper Randall Williams said the combination of Labor Day Weekend and college football games meant extra traffic on the roadways.
"We're out here looking for distracted drivers using their phone and not paying attention to the road way," he said. "Your number one priority when you're behind the wheel should be paying attention to where you're going and what you're doing."
Williams said he has seen fewer people on their phones since the law went into effect July 1. Still, he said some people are not following the law.
"One of the biggest reasons why we're back out here and we're doing a little bit more strict enforcement is to let everybody know that that law is still in effect and will be in effect," he said. "It could save your life."
Some may wonder why there was a grace period to begin with, but THP Lt. Don Boshears explained the immediate goal for enforcement was to educate people who might not know about the new law.
“We want to educate. We want to save lives. We want to prevent injuries,” Boshears told 10News back when the law first began two months ago.
“We are enforcing the law, but we want to be easy about it,” Boshears explained. “Every situation is different.”
So what does that mean for you as a driver? Don't hold or touch your phone while driving. Make sure you have a car mount to display your phone's GPS or music that doesn't require your phone to be in your hand, or use a Bluetooth earpiece device.
And if you don't leave the phone alone? Well, violators could face up to a $50 fine for their first offense. That amount could reach $100 if the violation causes an accident or $200 for violations in construction or school zones.