Tennessee texting ban difficult to enforce

Texting while driving is very dangerous and contributes to many car accidents every year in the United States. Texting while driving has been illegal in Tennessee since 2009 in an effort to reduce the number of distracted driving car accidents

Despite the ban against texting while driving, Tennessee police officers rarely give drivers tickets for texting behind the wheel, according to a report by The Tennessean. They reported that law enforcement agencies issued only 389 tickets for texting while driving in the last three years since the law has been in effect. 

The state banned texting while driving to make the roads safer and to reduce accidents. Recent reports by the National Safety Council show that texting while driving is a significant safety threat in Tennessee, with the state having the highest percentage of traffic fatalities caused by cellphone use in the country. With texting while driving being a very common behavior, how come police officers have not issued more citations for texting while driving?

Law enforcement agencies said that it is very difficult to enforce the ban against texting because it is hard to tell if someone is reading or sending a text and can be even more difficult to prove that a driver was.

Police officers have to actually see a driver texting on their cellphone, and if drivers don’t admit they were texting, police officers are more likely to write a citation for a different traffic violation like failing to maintain the lane or speeding. Police officers could subpoena cellphone records but more law enforcement agencies only do this after a serious car accident happens and they suspect texting or cellphone use played a role in the crash.

Even though the ban on texting while driving has been difficult to enforce, police have increased the number of citations for texting while driving every year since the law went into effect. Hopefully that number will continue to increase and it will lead to a decrease in car accidents caused by cellphone us in Tennessee. 

Source: WBIR, “TN police rarely ticket for texting,” Nate Rau, Sept. 15, 2013