Knoxville man recalls being hit by distracted driver, praises new hands-free bill

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – David Francisco is still healing three years after his life was changed forever.  

“My body went 100 feet down the road,” Francisco said.  

In April 2016, he was riding his bicycle in Berry Hill when he says he was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a red light. 

“I was bleeding out on the road,” he said.  

He was paralyzed and in a wheelchair for almost a year. 

“Shouldn’t have even survived honestly,” he said.  

It’s the type of crash state lawmakers and law enforcement want to prevent. 

“It’s about being completely focused on the road and not having any distractions,” said Arriale Tabson, public information officer for Tennessee Highway Safety Office.  

Starting July 1, a new law will crack down on distracted driving, making it illegal to hold a cell phone or mobile device while driving.  

“This will be the first time that people will really be held accountable for being hands-free,” Tabson said.  

Drivers can be fined anywhere from $50 to $200. 

Since January, there’ve been more than 500 crashes caused by distracted driving in Davidson County.  

“All those crashes are preventable,” Tabson said. “These could all be easily avoided.”  

The new law is broken down on the website Hands-Free Tennessee which launched this week. 

“You can use your GPS navigation,” Tabson said. “You can use voice commands.”  
Survivors like Francisco say the law is a good idea.  

“This is real,” he said. “It actually affects lives.”  

It’s a life Francisco says that’s now gotten better despite the crash. 

“I’ve had more purpose and fulfillment than I ever could’ve imagined,” he said.  

He became a finalist on American Idol and speaks out against distracted driving. 

“It’s very dangerous,” Tabson said. “People’s lives are literally ended because of that.” 

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