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Tony Seaton supports handheld phone ban


Tennessee lawmakers could soon consider a law that would ban all handheld devices while driving. The law would substantially bolster the state's current law, which only bans texting while driving. State Representative John Holsclaw is expected to introduce the bill to the legislature soon.

Johnson City car wreck attorney Tony Seaton has voiced his support for the proposed bill. "Distracted driving has become too big of a problem in this state," he argued. "We have some of the loosest restrictions in the country and it shows in the amount of accidents we see. I've seen too many people severely injured or even die because someone was sending a text message."

The data seems to back up Mr. Seaton's assertion. According to data from 2013 from the National Safety Council, Tennessee had a higher frequency of car accident deaths caused by cellphone than any other state. So far in 2015, cell phones have caused more than 1,300 accidents in Tennessee.

Under current law, drivers can use a handheld phone to dial a phone number, but not to text. That creates a big problem when it comes to enforcement. Police officers can see when someone is using their handheld device, but they often can't differentiate between texting or dialing. In the new law, all handheld devices would be banned for drivers, eliminating the enforcement challenge.

Mr. Seaton, a car accident attorney in Johnson City, says it's time to toughen up the state's laws. "No one should die because another driver couldn't wait to text," he exclaimed. "No one should paralyzed or physically unable to work because somebody's busy on the internet."

He further argued that distracted driving isn't perceived as dangerous as it should be. "Based on the injuries I've seen, I think driving while working your phone is every bit as dangerous as drunk driving. It's time we started enforcing it the same way."

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