Tennessee Traffic Laws (8 Laws You Should Know About)

Tennessee Traffic Laws (8 Laws You Should Know About)

Ah, driving.

The steering wheel in both hands and the leisure to go anywhere… 

But also the task of making sure that you abide by the laws. 

And it is this last point that we want to focus on — the Tennessee traffic laws. 

In this article, we’re going to look at 8 traffic laws that every driver should know about. 

More than that, we’re also going to highlight the penalties for breaking these laws. 

This way, you will make sure to obey them all. 

So shall we? 

8 Tennessee Traffic Laws and Their Penalties

Here are the 8 Tennessee traffic laws that we’ll be looking at:

  1. Hands-free law
  2. Vehicle video installation law
  3. Coasting law
  4. Headlight laws
  5. Littering law
  6. Speed limits
  7. Parking laws
  8. Vehicle crash laws

Let’s get to the details…

Tennessee Hands-Free Law

It’s always tempting to use your phone while driving, especially if you receive calls or messages. 

However, the State of Tennessee has a law against that, called the Hands-Free Law. 

Under the Hands-Free Law, “operating or even just touching any mobile device to communicate with someone or for any other reason is strictly forbidden.”

The reason is that it’s a very common form of distracted driving. 

And when a driver is distracted, accidents are very likely to happen. 

Now, one exception to this law is using your phone in a hands-free mode. Just make sure it doesn’t take your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, your mind off the driving task, and your body off the seat. 

Just note that this exception does not apply to teens under 18 years old. 

Another exception that is available to ALL is if you use your phone to call 911 or any other emergency services. 

As for the penalties, this will be a Class C misdemeanor and will result in:

  • 3 points to your driver’s license
  • $50 fine (for first and second offense)
  • $100 fine (for third and subsequent offenses OR if you caused an accident)
  • $200 fine (if caught using it in a work or school zone)

Tennessee Vehicle Video Installation Law

Most cars nowadays have a GPS or infotainment system pre-installed. 

However, drivers that have installed these systems after-market, should be aware of the Tennessee Vehicle Video Installation Law.

Here, any device installed must not have the capability of displaying active videos, such as movies, that can distract the driver.

These systems must also be placed appropriately so it doesn’t block the driver’s field of view.

Violating this gets you a fine of up to $50. 

Tennessee Coasting Law

The Tennessee Coasting Law made more sense in the old days — but may still apply to some drivers today.

For drivers with manual transmissions, they like to put their cars and trucks in neutral when going downhill. 

Sure, this helps them save on gas…

But it also exposes them and others on the road to significantly more risk as the braking ability of the vehicle is inhibited when it’s in neutral.

This is why the State of Tennessee now has a coasting law that prohibits this activity. 

Any vehicle found going downhill in neutral gear (or with a depressed clutch) will be served with a fine of up to $50.

Tennessee Vehicle Headlight Laws

Drivers often use headlights subconsciously — whenever they feel the need to.

But did you know that it’s actually a law to turn on your headlights 30 minutes before sundown and 30 minutes after sunrise?

This makes it much safer for everyone. 

Moreover, headlights are also a must in foggy and rainy weather with visibility of less than 200 feet.

Yes, you probably turn your headlights anyway — but it’s important to know that it’s also a law. 

And failure to comply with this could lead to a misdemeanor charge, a $50 fine, and maybe even jail time.

Tennessee Littering Law

You are NOT allowed to litter in Tennessee roadways. 

Not only does it create an unsightly mess on roadsides and open areas, but it can potentially become a hazard on the road.

So waste products such as bags, cans, cigarette buts, and more shouldn’t be tossed out of your window willy-nilly.

Tennessee also comes down hard on violators of the littering law, with fines ranging from $50 to $500 based on the extent of litter.

Moreover, you could also get stuck with 40 hours of community service, which is no one’s idea of fun!

Tennessee Speed Limits

Most drivers already know about speed limits that are posted on the signs.

But what if there is no sign present?

Then you’ll have to obey these general speed limits:

  • On primary and secondary state and federal highways the speed limit is 55 mph unless stated otherwise.
  • For interstate highways, the maximum speed limit is 70 mph. However, it may be set as low as 55 mph, depending on the urbanization near the area.
  • The speed limit for work and school zones is either 15 mph or 20 mph. Breaking these will result in fines that can come down extra hard for violators.

No, speed limits aren’t just for fast drivers. 

There are minimum speed limits, too. If you go slower than that, you put other drivers at risk on the road.

The fine for a speeding ticket will depend on where you were caught speeding and how many mph you went over the limit. But you can expect fines to start from $100 going well over $500.

You should expect a few points added to your license as well. 

Tennessee Parking Laws

Here are the no-parking zones in Tennessee: 

  • In areas with a “no-parking” sign.
  • In front of a public or private driveway.
  • On the other side of a parked vehicle (known as double parking).
  • Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
  • Within 20 feet of a crosswalk or in the crosswalk-marked area.
  • Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway on the same side of the street. 
  • Within 75 feet of a fire station driveway on the opposite side of the street.
  • Within 30 feet of a traffic signal, stop sign, or any other traffic control device.
  • Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing.
  • On paved or unpaved entrance and exit ramps.
  • Within an intersection.
  • On a sidewalk.
  • On a bridge or tunnel.
  • On a handicapped parking area (unless you are handicapped).
  • On the shoulder of any interstate.

What’s more, there are also painted curbs to help you identify what you can do in some areas. 

  • A white curb – only for stopping and picking up or dropping off passengers.
  • A yellow curb – only for stopping and loading or unloading items. Driver must always stay with the car.
  • A red curb – not allowed to stop, stand, or park in that area.

Parking fines can start from $10 and can go up depending on the area you’ve parked in.

NOTE: The most expensive fine is if you park in a handicapped parking area and you or any passenger is not handicapped. 

Tennessee Vehicle Crash Laws

If you’ve been involved in a crash in Tennessee, you’ll have to notify 911 right away.

Leaving the scene where an injury or fatality has occurred is a serious offense.

You’ll also have to report a car crash with property damage exceeding $1,500 within 20 days to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Fines and possible jail time may follow serious accidents.

However, these are on a case-by-case basis and depend on the circumstances.

For normal fender benders, drivers do not need to notify the police if they are willing to settle it between themselves.


So those were the 8 Tennessee traffic laws every driver should know. 

If you want to avoid those annoying traffic tickets and fines, or worse, then you must obey all these laws. 

Not only that but obeying these laws will make you a much better and safer driver. 

Keep safe on the road!

For other Tennessee traffic laws, you can check out our articles on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *