Sunday, 18 November 2018

Greeson: It’s time Tennessee lawmakers get serious about distracted drivers

Greeson: It’s time Tennessee lawmakers get serious about distracted drivers
27 Jun

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

This story was updated June 26, 2018, at 4:44 p.m.



What if I told you we have more than a million lives lost a year worldwide due to traffic accidents?

That would be something to fight, right?

And then, what if I told you that roughly 25 percent of those roadway deaths were preventable?

Distracted driving accounts for about a fourth of the 1.3 million traffic-related deaths around the world each year.

Here’s a tip of the visor to the state of Georgia for taking the needed steps to try to curb distracted driving.

This newspaper’s Tyler Jett explored the issue last weekend in an article about whether this decision makes drivers safer. It’s hard to come up with a reason to refute the idea that drivers who are focused on driving have a better chance to get where they are going. It seems like that falls into the “common sense” realm, like believing that staying indoors during a rainstorm will keep you dry and anyone not involved in a gang is less likely to be shot.

We as a society far too often are our own worst enemy, excusing stupid behavior under the banner of freedom of choice.

Hey, freedom is a great thing — what makes ‘Merica ‘Merica after all — but shouldn’t the rest of us be free from you knuckleheads who are looking at your phone with a hand on the wheel and your foot on the gas?

In fact, the only way the Georgia law banning drivers from having phones in their hands at all could have been better was if they banned having a cigarette in your hand if a child was in the car, as well.

Which brings us to our next point.

Tennessee, where are you? Answer the phone — seriously — and make this a law sooner rather than later.

Yes, Tennessee has a hands-free phone law for school zones, but that raises two questions:

First, this type of focus is obviously intended to help improve the safety of pedestrians in a school zone. Excellent. But do we really believe there are more people walking around roadways at any given school than there are downtown, for example?

Sure, everyone wants to keep our children safe, but the lack of perspective — especially when you consider all the kids riding with distracted drivers — seems overly political from our ‘fearless/fearful’ leaders in Nashville.

Secondly, if the noble goal of keeping our kids safe is paramount for our state lawmakers, then why have a hands-free law in school zones and not for everyone else? It may be our youngest drivers who need this law the most. According to more than 58 percent of the accidents for teenage drivers are linked to distracted driving.

The questions posed by Jett’s article seem clearly defined and clearly preventable. Just like drinking alcohol impairs driving, so does texting. That much is indisputable.

And the changes in the law to become much more strict on drinking and driving have been undeniably successful.

Here’s hoping that Georgia’s law has the same effect.

Now, let’s get Tennessee lawmakers off their cushy seats and looking to join the fight against distracted driving.

Contact Jay Greeson at or 423-757-6343.

CORRECTION: There are more than a million traffic-related deaths worldwide each year, not in the United States alone.



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