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Let's test how distractions impact driving by driving distracted on a training course

Our reporter Katie Inman went out to the KPD closed driving course to test out how distractions affect your driving ability.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are divided on whether the roads in the state are safer since "Hands Free Tennessee" went into effect July 1, 2019.

A bill proposed in the 2020 session could repeal the hands free law. But, since it's only been in effect for six months, it's too early to know its effect, according to Stephanie Milani with AAA.

RELATED: Proposed law would repeal hands-free driving law in Tennessee

“You can drive around roads and you’ll see that some people are obeying the law, some people are still holding their phones, and that may be just because they don’t know about it or they are just trying to get away with it," Milani said.

Our reporter Katie Inman went out to the KPD closed driving course to test out how distractions affect your driving ability.

Greg Mangan with Drive 4 Life Academy, rode along and revealed how even travelling at a slow rate of speed while doing something like texting could cause a crash.

Katie knocked over multiple cones while trying to reply to texts on the course. She was only going 20 mph.

"No one obviously got hurt in that little simulation, but that could be a child on a bicycle, it could be anything that presents itself out of the traffic environment that is a very very bad thing," Mangan explained.

Without distractions and with eyes on the road the whole time, the course was easier-- and no cones were knocked down.

But, texting isn't the only distraction tested. Mangan also asked math questions and tried to carry on conversations while Katie drove on the course.

Milani explained there are three different types of distractions on the road:

  • Manual
    • Anything that takes your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Visual
    • Anything that takes your eyes off the road or scanning the road.
  • Mental
    • "That can be the phone call that you’re on, that can be the kids in the back seat, it can even be the conversation you had with a coworker before you left work," Milani said.

But, Mangan wants people to realize it's not just about the person who is distracted.

“A lot of people worry about getting a ticket texting or getting a ticket on your phone, and it’s not about that," Mangan said. "It’s about the safety of the other people on the road, and frankly it’s so inconsiderate of others and you need to realize their safety is in your hands and every driver needs to realize that.”

There has been no deicision on the proposed bill that would repeal "Hands Free Tennessee" yet, but lawmakers will be voting in the 2020 session.