Although fewer vehicles were on the road last year due to an increase in telecommuting, the rate of traffic fatalities went up across the nation. Experts suggest that this was due a dramatic increase in risky behaviors, such as distracted or impaired driving, speeding and driving without a seatbelt.
In fact, fatalities surged when factoring in the total vehicle miles traveled (VMT). According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated 42,060 motor vehicle deaths occurred last year, up 8% from 2019. But when factoring in the VMT, the rate rose by a shocking 24%, marking the highest surge in fatalities ever recorded by the NSC.
Tennessee’s hands-free law
In 2020, over 20,400 crashes involved a distracted driver in Tennessee, and studies have listed the state as having the highest rate of distracted drivers in the nation. Tennessee passed a hands-free driving law known as Public Chapter No. 412 (PCO412) in 2019, and started a larger campaign to educate Tennesseans of the importance of putting down their phones and focusing on the road while driving.
The law prohibits a driver from holding or supporting a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body, or recording or broadcasting video on these devices while driving. Streaming music that does not include videos is permitted, but the driver cannot touch the cellphone to activate music while driving.
Violation of the law is a Class C misdemeanor, and fines can vary from $50 for a first offense to $200 or more, depending on if the violation resulted in a traffic accident, occurs in a work or school zone, or if it is a repeated violation. Each violation results in three points off the driver’s license.
The aftermath of a serious accident
Injury in a car accident can be serious, and often insurance companies will delay or deny claims or will try to get the accident victim to settle immediately before injuries have been fully discovered. Whiplash can take time to show, and chronic pain from injuries sustained in a car accident can become debilitating over time.
If the accident was caused by the negligent actions of another driver, it is possible to file a lawsuit in civil court. In Tennessee, the court will look at the actions of both parties to determine the percentage of damages the plaintiff may collect when factoring in the contributory negligence of each party.
It is important to have experienced legal representation to help you develop the best strategy for obtaining the financial compensation that you deserve for your injuries.