Make your home page

(WKRN) — A new Tennessee law that bans handheld cellphone use while driving goes into effect on July 1. 

Drivers like Murfreesboro residents Tori Bailey and Derek Howard aren’t too fazed by the law and are simply preparing for the big changes to come.

Just need to take that time pull over to the side and wait until you get done with that conversation to get on the road again, Bailey said.

Maybe people will pull over and send those messages, Howard said.

Captain Gary Gensemer of the Murfreesboro Police Department said the new law enhances the state’s current texting and driving law.

It is hard to tell what somebody is doing with their phone — it’s not always easy to say, ‘Oh, they were texting and driving,’ Gensemer said. You pull them over, [and they could easily say, ‘No, I was not.’ If you see them holding their phone in their hand and it’s obvious they’re using the phone, then I think we’re going to be able to take action.

Starting July 1, drivers caught in violation of the law could face a $100 fine. The citation increases to a $200 fine if the violation results in an accident.

Cpt. Gensemer said his department is working to prepare for the law to take effect — making sure officers are well-versed on the law, and the city court is ready to handle the workload of initial violations.

The Tennessee Highway Safety office said awareness is key and they are making education campaigns with local police departments a major priority ahead of the transition. 

Start getting in the habit now would be my advice, Cpt. Gensemer said.

Howard agrees and said he believes in this day and age, there’s no excuse for people to be in violation.

The technology is available in all these vehicles nowadays — use the Bluetooth — it’s available and much safer, Howard said. You can keep your eyes on the road and out of accidents.