New bill cracks down on phone calls for drivers - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New bill cracks down on phone calls for drivers

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State Rep. Jim Coley and others are pushing a bill that would force drivers to put down their cell phones.

Drivers would be allowed to use hands-free devices, but the days of driving and holding a phone to talk would be over.

Dillon Oman says it has not happened often, but he has driven while holding the phone and having a conversation at the same time.

He admits it's a distraction, so he makes an effort not to do it.

"It's something that I actively keep my phone out of reach so that I can't get to it," he said.

Tennessee Regional Safety Council Executive Director Andrew Williams says drivers who talk on their cell phones, no matter which method they use, are two to three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

"I think it's the first step, tying to address the issue that's happening on our highways today. Try to get people's attention, let them know how serious this issue actually is," Williams said.

Anyone who violates the law would get a warning first. After a second warning, the driver would have to pay court fees, and after a third warning, drivers would face a fine of up to $500.

It's a potential change to Tennessee law that driver Chris Clark sees as a positive change.

"I think it's absolutely a good idea. People shouldn't use their phones, anyway, while they drive. We generally don't like it when people use their phones around us, especially on the interstate, when we're driving a lot quicker," Clark said.

The bill needs to pass committee before it moves to the House floor.

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