Distracted driving accidents rose 129% between 2008 and 2017 in Tennessee, according to a new report from ValuePenguin.
Statewide, there are 3.91 distracted driving crashes per 1,000 residents annually, notes the report.
The research explores top counties in the state where distracted driving behavior contributed to collisions. Shelby County leads the state for worst offender, with a reported 5,600 more distracted driving carshes in 2017 as compared with nine years prior, and accounting for 40% of the total increase across Tennessee during this timeframe.
Other counties ranking among the top three for worst distracted driving include Washington County with 676 more distracted driving crashes in 2017 versus 2008, followed by Williamson County with 640 more collisions.
Even among the safest large and midsized counties in Tennessee, the majority did experience a rise in collisions from 2008. But these counties average just 1.36 crashes per 1,000 residents, which is 65% lower than the state mean.
Knox County, for example, is the most populated "safe" county and home to Knoxville, the third most populated city in Tennessee. Yet it experienced just a 36% increase in distracted driving accidents from 2008 to 2017 as compared with the 129% overall state increase.
According to the report, Tennessee presently has nuanced laws that apply to using a cell phone while behind the wheel, which cause confusion for drivers. Tennessee lawmakers are currently considering a hands-free policy for all drivers. It would require motorists to use a mounted or worn device, such as a watch or Bluetooth, to talk on the phone.