More than 400 citations issued statewide after Hands-Free Law went into effect

Updated: Aug. 6, 2019 at 5:41 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Newly released numbers from Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security show 26 hands-free/texting citations were issued in Shelby County last month. Statewide there were a total of 424 citations issued.

July is when the new Hands Free law went into play making it illegal for drivers to touch any mobile device while in the driver's seat.

Wilson County topped the list with 34 citations. Rutherford County came in second with 31. Robertson County came in at third with 28, then Shelby County in fourth.

"Anything that brings awareness to safe driving is a good thing,” said Kathy Thurmond-Edwards with State Farm Insurance.

Thurmond-Edwards says the new law, which can cost drivers $50 to $200 if they violate it, is a step in the right direction.

A recent survey conducted by the insurance giant showed drivers with smart cars admitted to reading or sending messages while driving and holding their phones all while letting their cars do most of the driving.

"Now they're depending on it to alert them if they're going to cross the lane or alert them if they're going to hit the car in front of them,” said Thurmond-Edwards.

Shelby County Sheriff's deputies are enforcing the hands-free law, but Memphis Police are not. The department said last month officers could not issue those tickets because there's no city ordinance to mirror state law.

Tuesday, City Councilman Berlin Boyd said the topic could come before council in the next month or two.

"To make sure that everybody's on the same page so that we could put one sound piece of legislation out that makes sense and that has no loopholes,” said Boyd.

Tennessee Highway Patrol says from now until around Labor Day, troopers will focus on educating the public. They will make stops, but will primarily focus on explaining the new law to drivers.

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