The Johnson City Police Department is conducting a Hands Free Campaign the week of July 29-Aug. 2. The goal is to make the public aware of the law and the consequences for violating it as it pertains to school zones. The first day of school in Johnson City is Aug. 5.
The law allows for the usage of hands free devices in active school zones for persons 18 and older. An active school zone is defined as warning flashers in operation. If a violation occurs in an active school zone, the fine is $200 and requires a referral to Sessions Court.
While the law permits hands free devices in school zones, research shows the danger of using a device while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2017 over 3,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in the United States. Additionally, a study by the University of Utah showed that using a cell phone while driving is equivalent to a blood alcohol content level of .08.
Johnson City Police Department records revealed that 120 traffic crashes occurred within one quarter mile of city schools between July 17, 2018 and July 17, 2019. Thirty-seven percent of those crashes occurred near Science Hill High School.
“Traffic safety is important to the Johnson City Police Department,” Goff said. “Statistics show that distracted driving is a factor in numerous crashes. Through the Hands Free Tennessee Campaign, we are striving to create awareness to gain voluntary compliance of the law.”