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Tennessee Highway Patrol works for safer roads

In a recent statement, the Tennessee Highway Patrol confirmed its commitment to making 2013 an even safer year than 2012 for Tennessee drivers. Toward that end, authorities will likely be targeting distracted drivers, in addition to drinking and driving offenders.

Distracted driving remains a problem on the state's roads and highways. According to one estimate, there were over 1,000 cell phone-related car accidents in Tennessee in 2011, up from about 650 in 2008.

Under current state law, text messaging while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. In that regard, Tennessee follows the majority approach, as 39 other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws banning text messaging while driving. However, cell phone use is still permitted for adult drivers in Tennessee, with certain exceptions.

In addition to urging all states to pass laws against distracted driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently proposed voluntary in-vehicle distraction guidelines. These guidelines would require automakers to install safety measures, such as limiting manual inputs required for device operation, limiting information in the driver's field of view that may not be necessary, and requiring one hand to remain on the steering wheel while operating a smartphone.

Finally, there are legal options available to someone injured in a car accident by a distracted driver. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, a car accident victim can prepare evidence to demonstrate that the driver's use of a smartphone resulted in a breach of applicable driving safety standards or traffic rules. That negligence may help in holding the driver accountable for his negligence, and in securing a recovery for the victim's injuries and property damage.

Source: wbbjtv.com, "THP Fighting to Stop Distracted Driving," Erica Williams, Jan. 21, 2013

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