May 30, 2017

Distracted Driving Laws and Variances by State

image of 2 distracted drivers hitting a pedestrianOn October 1st, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to enact a law against texting while driving; officially restricting the use of cell phones by drivers. The ban on texting while driving is presently a secondary law in Florida. A primary law means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic violation taking place, while a secondary law means an officer can only issue a ticket if a driver has been pulled over for another violation (like speeding).

For this reason, Florida’s new law has been criticized as ineffective and weak. Many traffic safety experts feel the law needs much improvement in order to have any true impact on reducing distracted driving.

 

How Distracted Driving Laws Vary across 14 States

Many feel that Florida needs to adapt tougher laws against distracted driving, like those of other states such as New York and Illinois.  Laws regarding texting and mobile device usage while driving vary from state to state. The list below shows how Florida stacks up against a few other states with varying levels of distraction bans:

  • Florida: Texting is banned (secondary law), only while the vehicle is in motion. No ban exists regarding talking on a cell phone.

 

  • Georgia: Texting is banned (primary law). Cell phone use is banned for drivers under 18 (primary law).

 

  • California: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (secondary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • New York: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • Illinois: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law),

ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 19 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law) – Illinois bans the use of cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone – Handheld ban for all drivers (Primary law, eff. 1/1/14).

 

  • Maine: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law),

ban on texting for all drivers (primary law) – Maine has passed a general statute making it unlawful to drive while distracted in the state.

 

  • North Carolina: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • District of Columbia: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary).

 

  • Texas: Ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) AND a ban on texting for all new drivers licensed for less than 12 months regardless of age (primary law), ban on texting for bus drivers (primary law), Texas has banned the use of handheld phones and texting in school zones. Texting is not banned in all other cases, provided the driver has been licensed for at least 12 months.

 

  • Arizona: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for school bus drivers only (primary law).

 

  • Missouri: Ban on texting for drivers under age 21 (primary law).

 

  • Montana: No bans on distracted driving.

 

  • South Carolina: No bans on distracted driving.

 

  • South Dakota: No bans on distracted driving.

 

Don’t see your favorite or home state listed here? Interested readers can access distracted driving laws on all 50 states, as well as distracted driving resources and statistics at Distraction.gov.

 

 

References:

 

Distraction.gov – http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html

 

ABC News – http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/state/texting-while-driving-ban-among-new-fla-laws

 

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