Car Wrecks Involving Texting and Driving

Male: The following is a sponsored segment from The Higgins Firm.

Nick Paranjape: Welcome back to Tennessee Morning, 7:45. Texting and driving practically become a national epidemic with thousands killed in crashes involving distracted drivers. Here to talk more about the dramatic increase in cases and how Tennessee handles them is Attorney Jim Higgins. Good to see you, Jim.

Jim Higgins: Good to see you, Nick.

Nick Paranjape: A lot of folks do this and I still see it and I know it's against the law here in Tennessee. What exactly is the law in existence in Tennessee right now?

Jim Higgins: Well, it's a citation and a fine, well, it can be a misdemeanor crime if the policeman sees you doing it. And, you know, and I think we all have seen that driving down the road, someone next to you or at the stoplight. And that's what the officers look for now. I mean, it's – I think some people are so engrossed with it when they do it and if they happen to be passing a policeman or whoever, they're going to pull over and they're going to give him a citation.

Nick Paranjape: True.

Jim Higgins: And it also involves, you know, our cases years ago, when we had a lot of tragic cases, it could have been avoided. Mainly, they involve drunk driving, driving under the influence, and there's just kind of been this change. We still have those cases but it seems more and more are tragic cases involved distracted drivers and it's – it's basically people texting on their phone.

Nick Paranjape: How do you prove it? Because that's the hardest part for any office out there looking to see if someone is texting and driving because you could look and be looking for a phone number or dialing a phone number?

Jim Higgins: Well, and that's the thing. We call it texting and driving because that's the most common thing they do but it's really a distracted driving statute.

Nick Paranjape: Right. Right.

Jim Higgins: And the same thing within our cash driving accident cases. What were you doing with your phone instead of watching the road.

Nick Paranjape: Sure.

Jim Higgins: You know, and that's what you do. And to prove it, you know, when a policeman sees it, he has to kind of see you in the act. When we have a case – and the cases that we handle, we narrow to really catastrophic, well, for that type of cases. So because we handle those bigger cases, we get in to that information. You subpoena records, you get the – get your – get the phone. We have experts review that and we can remove that data to find out when they were on the phone, how long they're on it, what time was it relative to the crash.

You know, but in a lot of times, when they have to go that far, sometimes you, you know, put someone under oath and believe it or not, most people are honest and say were you texting and they’ll admit it or passengers in the car admit it. So, nowadays, with – it's all this technology, there's electronic trail everywhere.

Nick Paranjape: Right. Right.

Jim Higgins: So it is not that difficult to find that information anymore.

Nick Paranjape: Well, we, of course, here at Fox 17, very serious about not texting and driving. You can take the pledge to stop texting and driving. Just go to our Facebook page, facebook.com/foxnashville, click on the Fan Central tab there and look for the No Text Zone Pledge. Go and take that.

We're all talking about how dangerous it is and it certainly isn't – it has stopped me from doing it. I admit, I used to do it and, you know, until it became law and then I was like and we took the no-text zone pledge and I was like, there are times I'm tempted but I've turned the phone down.

Jim Higgins: It's just not worth it.

Nick Paranjape: And now with Siri, you can just talk.

Jim Higgins: That’s right. You’ve got that going.

Nick Paranjape: That's right. If you have any questions for Jim Higgins or any of the attorneys over there at The Higgins Firm, you can call that phone number on your screen, 353-0930 or you can contact Jim directly through e-mail, jim@higginsfirm.com.

All right. Good to see you.

Jim Higgins: Good to see you, Nick.

Nick Paranjape: Thank you.