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When does the new handheld phone law take effect?

You've probably heard about the new law in Tennessee changing legal use of a cellphone in a car. It will make it illegal to hold the device and use it in any way if you're driving through an active school zone.

This means not sending or reading text messages. It means no going on the Internet to browse Facebook or other websites. It means no talk-to-text programs. But it also means no talking on the phone at all.

You may think that making a call is safer than texting. That's fine. You just can't do either one in a school zone in Tennessee.

So, when does the law kick in? It becomes official on January 1, 2018.

The reason for the change is that police say that cellphone use is the most common distraction they see behind the wheel. It means people aren't watching the road and it could lead to accidents.

One officer who works at a high school directing traffic said he sees it every single day. He said people who are talking get too engrossed in their conversations. Often they don't see him trying to direct traffic at all. They pull up to the stop and he motions for them to move forward, but they're busy trying to talk and watch traffic and they ignore his instructions.

Distractions can be deadly anywhere. The risk goes way up in a school zone because of heavy pick-up and drop-off traffic, and because kids could be crossing the road. A moment of distraction is too much.

If you or a loved one gets hurt because of a distracted driver, be sure you know your legal rights.

Source: Tennessean, "Handheld phone calls in active Tennessee school zones illegal Jan. 1," Chris Gadd, accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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