States take action to stop distracted driving

Posted at 3:19 PM, Apr 10, 2019

It's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and there's a new push to keep roads safer.

In Tennessee, the state with the highest levels of distracted-driving deaths in the country, police have taken a unique approach to catching distracted drivers. Officers are riding on city buses and watching drivers around them, catching ones on their phones and then calling for backup to pull them over.

"This is distracted driving week throughout the United States, and so this week, we're spending time working on our roadways to bring attention to our drivers about this type of behavior that we're trying to stop," explains Steve Dillard with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

In California, drivers can be issued a ticket for just holding your phone behind the wheel, even at a traffic stop. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing the state to take it a step further and become the first to ban hands-free calls, saying it can still cause drivers to be distracted.

But are hands-free devices really a distraction?

An instructor with the MasterDrive driving school in Denver, Colorado says hands-free technology still takes the driver’s focus away from driving their vehicle.

“While you're looking at your screens and trying to figure out which button to push, the cars in motion,” the instructor says. “The car is not being driven by you at that point, and at any point, things could happen.”

Distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives in 2017 alone.