Driving Smarts: Tennessee's Secret Laws Every Driver Should Know

Driving Smarts: Tennessee’s Secret Laws Every Driver Should Know

You are aware of the fundamentals: slow down, check your mirrors, and fasten your seatbelt. You might not be aware of certain Tennessee traffic laws, though.

Here are some driving regulations you should be aware of before you get in your car and head into the Volunteer State.

It is against the law for drivers to use a smartphone while driving

The Volunteer State “hands-free driving law” was passed in 2019 with the intention of lowering the state’s rate of distracted driving. It is against the law for drivers to view movies, record videos, send texts, or hold a mobile device while operating a car.

The “Eddie Conrad Act,” which went into force in January 2024, stiffened the penalty for drivers who are detected texting while operating a vehicle. It mostly affects those under the age of 18, as a second or subsequent offense carries seven points, which could result in a six- to 12-month license suspension.

With a few restrictions, it is permissible to eat roadkill

Tennesse Code 70-4-115 states that it is legal for individuals to consume “wild game animals” that were unintentionally hit and killed by a car. Yes, you read that right—the carcasses frequently spotted by the side of the road are available for consumption.

There aren’t many exclusions to the complimentary dinner, though. Driving is allowed, for instance, if a driver notifies the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) or gives their identify to local law authorities within 48 hours of obtaining a deer.

Bears are subject to the same rules. The code states that after a TWRA officer issues a possession sticker for the carcass, drivers are free to possess it.

Anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed to ride a bike without a helmet

TCA 55-52-105 stipulates that it is illegal for cyclists who are 16 years of age or younger to ride a bike or be a passenger without donning a protective helmet.

The legislation makes it clear that carrying more than one person on a bicycle at once is prohibited unless the bicycle is made for that purpose.

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When passing stopped vehicles, you have to move over

When passing a stationary vehicle with flashing danger lights on the side of the road in Tennessee, drivers are obligated to move over or slow down. The Move Over law was enacted by the Volunteer State, making it the thirty-first state in the union.

Due to a 2023 law expansion bill, drivers may face fines for their first infraction that are at least $250, more than twice as high as their prior punishment. According to officials, the sum would rise dramatically for people who break the law frequently, with a minimum fine of $2,500 for a second or third infraction.

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Crossing state boundaries with a skunk is prohibited

Considering a vacation to Tennessee? Before you cross state lines, remember to leave your skunk at home! TCA 70-4-208 states that the only establishments allowed to bring “unlawful skunks” into the Volunteer State are zoos and research institutes.

Funeral processions should cause drivers to stop

No, drivers are not required by law to stop on the side of the road in observance of the deceased. Though it’s not an official directive, the gesture is widely observed in the southern states.

Nonetheless, according to Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-183, cars are not allowed to pass funeral processions, fail to yield the right-of-way to funeral procession moving across an intersection, or drive between vehicles in a procession.

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Slow Poke Law

Tennessee implemented the “Slow Poke Law” on July 1, 2016. Driving in the left-hand passing lane of traffic unless you are passing is prohibited by law. The legal penalty for breaking the law is $50.00.

There are a few limitations, though. For instance, when a road is being built, when there are obstacles in the non-passing lanes that force traffic to go into the passing lane, or in bad weather, the law won’t be in effect.