Cell Phone Use and Texting - State by State 

       The issue of using a cell phone or texting while driving is a common one today. Many people think that just sending or reading a brief text will be fine and not cause any problem. But what drivers fail to realize is that this is part of the larger issue of distracted driving.

       There are three different types of distracted driving:

                  Visual - taking your eyes off the road.

                  Manual - taking your hands off the wheel.

                  Cognitive - taking your mind off what you are doing.

             Talking on a cell phone while driving is distracting.  Period. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. Most people think that only sending one text will be fine, but this is false confidence. To send one text you look down at your phone for about 4.6 seconds. While driving 55 mph this is the same as driving the length of a football field blindfolded. This is something we should all keep in mind when we think about texting. Since it is doubtful that any of us would drive the length of a football field blindfolded, we need to think twice before we pull out our cell phones.

            Over 18% of all distracted driving deaths involved the use of a cell phone. This problem is especially prevalent among younger, inexperienced drivers. 40% of all American teens said they have been in a car where the driver used their cell phone in a dangerous way. Texting also makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash compared to an undistracted driver. 

            These facts are clear but people continue to text because it is convenient and the danger does not seem immediate. It is clear that the danger is much more immediate that most people think, but what should we do about convenience? It is just so easy to text and drive.  It is also just as easy to wait a few minutes until we are out of the car to respond to a text. We can also pull over and make a quick phone call. This gets the quick conversations through texting taken care of in one simple act, and avoids further distractions. Another easy and safer option is to put our passengers to work. They are not the ones driving so they are perfectly able to text and call for us if our responses cannot wait. Our job as the driver is to stay as safe as possible and that means putting our cell phones away while we drive.

            Laws in the U.S. are beginning to reflect these safety concerns. Many states are banning hand held cell phones and texting while driving, forcing drivers to avoid such distractions. Some states have enacted stronger laws by making texting and driving a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over just for these offenses, regardless of whether you are violating any other rules of the road. Below is a chart of the texting and driving laws state by state in the U.S. This allows you to see what your own area is doing to prevent accidents due to distracted driving . But regardless of the laws, we should  be aware of  the safety hazards related to texting and driving and proceed cautiously when we decide to use our cell phones when behind the wheel.

 

State

Handheld Ban?

Texting Ban?

Alabama

No ban

Complete ban

Alaska

No ban

Complete ban

Arizona

No ban

No ban

Arkansas

Ban for 18-20 year olds

Required

California

Complete ban

Complete ban

Colorado

No ban

Complete ban

Connecticut

Complete ban

Complete ban

Delaware

Complete ban

Complete ban

Florida

No ban

No ban

Georgia

No ban

Complete ban

Hawaii

No ban

No ban

Idaho

No ban

Complete ban

Illinois

No ban

Complete ban

Indiana

No ban

Complete ban

Iowa

No ban

Complete ban

Kansas

No ban

Complete ban

Kentucky

No ban

Complete ban

Louisiana

Ban for learner’s permit

Complete ban

Maine

No ban

Complete ban

Maryland

Complete ban

Complete ban

Massachusetts

No ban

Complete ban

Michigan

No ban

Complete ban

Minnesota

No ban

Complete ban

Mississippi

No ban

No ban

Missouri

No ban

No ban

Montana

No ban

No ban

Nebraska

No ban

Complete ban

Nevada

Complete ban

Complete ban

New Hampshire

No ban

Complete ban

New Jersey

Complete ban

Complete ban

New Mexico

Only a ban for State vehicles

No ban

New York

Complete ban

Complete ban

North Carolina

No ban

Complete ban

North Dakota

No ban

Complete ban

Ohio

No ban

Complete ban

Oklahoma

Ban for learner’s permit

No ban

Oregon

Complete ban

Complete ban

Pennsylvania

No ban

Complete ban

Rhode Island

No ban

Complete ban

South Carolina

No ban

No ban

South Dakota

No ban

No ban

Tennessee

No ban

Complete ban

Texas

No ban

No ban

Utah

No ban

Complete ban

Vermont

No ban

Complete ban

Virginia

Complete ban

Complete ban

Washington

Complete ban

Complete ban

Washington, D.C.

Complete ban

Complete ban

West Virginia

Complete ban

Complete ban

Wisconsin

No ban

Complete ban

Wyoming

No ban

Complete ban

 

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