Clearing up confusion: Texting and driving at a red light

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Since the start of the Hands-Free Law, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has issued more than 7,500 citations.

Topping the list is Nashville-Davidson county with 1,883 violations, Memphis with 1,390, and Lawrenceburg with 874.

But there is still some confusion about when the regulations apply.

News 2 recently got an inquiry into this.

A major part of that confusion — what rules apply during a red light?

“It does not state in the law that you can’t use your phone while sitting at a traffic light,” said Lt. Charlie Caplinger.

The light must be a solid red.

“As long as the light is red and you’re paying attention to the light, you can send a text, email while you’re sitting still,” said Lt. Caplinger.

Even with the exception, Lt. Caplinger said tread lightly.

“Once the vehicle returns into motion, you’re supposed to put the phone down before you go into motion,” he said. “When the light changes, that’s an issue as well because people get involved with texts, and when light turns green, they don’t go as quick as they should.”

There are only a few other exceptions, including contacting first responders during a medical or vehicle emergency.

Lt. Caplinger said most misconceptions are easily solvable through Bluetooth technology.

“We do see a lot of people driving hands-free on speaker and holding it, not up to their ear. They think that’s not against the law, but it’s not hands-free,” said Lt. Caplinger.

Violations could lead to fines starting at $50 for a first-time offense.

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