Smart Driving

| January 01, 2011

Distracted Driving

A state-by-state guide to laws targeting cell-phone use while driving

By Max Kvidera


Alabama bans texting and cell phone use only for novice drivers 16 or 17.

Red -- Bans all handheld devices; Blue -- Bans texting by all drivers; Green -- Prohibits distracted driving; Yellow -- No bans or restrictions on certain drivers

Alaska bans texting by all drivers.

Arizona bans cell phone use only by school bus drivers.

In 2008, almost 20 percent of all crashes involved some type of distraction, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those accidents claimed more than 5,800 lives and injured about 515,000 people.

Arkansas bans texting by all drivers and cell phone use by bus drivers and drivers under age 18.

California is one of eight states to impose a ban on handheld devices on all drivers.

Colorado bans texting by all drivers.

Connecticut prohibits handheld use by all drivers.

Delaware bans handheld use by all drivers.

Using any type of cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, according to researchers at the University of Utah.

District of columbia bans all handhelds for all drivers.

Florida law prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting distracted driving bans.

Georgia bans texting by all drivers.

Hawaii imposes no distracted driving bans.

Illinois prohibits texting by all drivers and cell phone use while driving in a school zone or highway construction zone.

In Utah a driver caught texting faces a misdemeanor charge of up to three months in jail and a maximum $750 fine. If their action causes injury or death, the charge could become a felony with a maximum $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.

Indiana bans cell phone use and texting only by drivers under age 18.

Iowa bans texting by all drivers — as a secondary offense.

Kansas bans texting by all drivers.

Kentucky bans texting by all drivers.

No states go to the extreme of banning use of all types of cell phones, including hands-free.

Louisiana prohibits texting by all drivers.

Maine prohibits driving while distracted in the state.

Maryland bans texting by all drivers.

Massachusetts bans texting by all drivers.

Michigan bans texting by all drivers.

States such as Maine, New Hampshire and Utah include texting and cell phone use as factors within larger distracted driving laws. Maine doesn’t specifically prohibit cell phone use but includes use of electronic devices as one distraction that could cause accidents.

Minnesota prohibits texting by all drivers.

Mississippi bans texting by novice drivers and prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting distracted driving bans.

Missouri prohibits texting only by drivers 21 and under.

Montana imposes no bans on distracted driving.

Nebraska bans texting by all drivers.

Nevada has no bans and prohibits local governments from enacting distracted driving bans.

An Alaska law calls for a felony with a maximum 20 years in prison if a driver is responsible for a fatal accident when a computer, television or video monitor is on and in the driver’s field of vision. GPS devices are excluded.

New Hampshire bans texting by all drivers as apart of overall distracted driving law.

New Jersey prohibits handheld use by all drivers.

New Mexico bans handheld use by drivers in state vehicles.

New York bans handheld use by all drivers.

North Carolina bans texting by all drivers.

North Dakota imposes no bans on distracted driving.

Ohio has no bans on distracted driving.

Oklahoma imposes various restrictions on bus drivers and novice drivers.

Oregon bans handheld use by all drivers.

Pennsylvania has no distracted driving bans.

Rhode Island bans texting by all drivers.

South Carolina addresses distraction and inattention under Contributing Factors.

South Dakota imposes no bans on distracted driving.

Tennessee bans texting by all drivers.

Texas bans handheld and texting while driving in school zones.

Utah bans texting by all drivers. A state law addresses careless driving caused by a distraction, including cell phone use.

Vermont bans texting by all drivers.

Virginia bans texting by all drivers as a secondary offense.

Washington bans handheld use by all drivers.

West virginia bans cell phone use only by novice drivers.

Wisconsin bans texting by all drivers.

Wyoming prohibits texting by all drivers.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Governors Highway Safety Association, state highway safety offices

 

FEDERAL BANS ON TEXTING

The federal ban prohibiting texting while driving by interstate commercial vehicle operators includes driver fines up to $2,750 and company fines up to $11,000.

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