Texting while driving has been illegal in Tennessee since July 1st. While law enforcement officials know there’s lots of law breaking going on, the state has convicted only one driver for texting behind the wheel.
The question traffic cops are asking themselves is “what is texting?” Lt. David Corman of the Metro Police traffic division says placing a phone call could be just as distracting.
“What’s the difference between looking at your phone and scrolling down to find a phone number and pushing the send button, opposed to actually texting? How do you distinguish the difference of those two?”
Corman says a driver could also be sending an email or even browsing the Internet.
The policy for Metro Police, Corman says, is that an officer has to make visual confirmation that a driver is texting, or a driver has to admit to it.
“I don’t know of any of my officers that work in the traffic section that are going to cite somebody for that particular violation unless they see it themselves or somebody admits to it.”
To Corman’s knowledge, there’s been just one citation for texting while driving in Nashville. In that situation, the officer pulled along side the violator and watched the driver engrossed in a texting conversation. Corman says distracted driving is an important issue for traffic police, but he hasn’t placed high priority on enforcement of the new law.
While statewide only one driver has been convicted of texting while driving, which comes with a $50 fine, law enforcement officials say the law could still have a deterrent effect. Many more drivers now know texting behind the wheel – specifically – is illegal.