Distracted Driving Laws


Distracted driving laws are one component of the effort to reduce serious crashes caused by distracted drivers. Whether you’re texting, eating, emailing or reading a map, distracted driving diverts your attention away from the road and often results in crashes and injuries. In 2012, the U.S. government estimates that 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related crashes, while 3,328 were killed.

Distracted Driving Laws

To reduce the risk of fatal and non-fatal automobile crashes as a result of distracted driving, many states are enacting distracted driving laws. According to data from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, 14 states, in addition to D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned handheld cell phone use while driving, and offenders can receive a citation or fine for violations.

Texting is a particularly dangerous activity to do while driving because it takes your hands and eyes away from the road and driving safely. Forty-four states currently ban text messaging while driving, as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Since younger, less experienced drivers are at an increased risk for distracted driving crashes, 38 states ban all cell phone use, even hands-free, for young, novice drivers. These states include Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana and Utah, among many others.

However, a report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that a quarter of teens respond to a text message at least once every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and 10 percent of parents report having extended, multi-text message conversations via text while driving.

Tips for Following Distracted Driving Laws

Despite the push by states to enact and enforce distracted driving laws, most of the change we need to prevent fatalities and serious motor vehicle crashes must come from citizens taking a stand against distracted driving.

In the fight against distracted driving, information and awareness are key. Once people understand the damaging effects of distracted driving, they are more inclined to stop driving distracted and wait until the car is stopped to complete tasks that require their hands, focus and visual attention. It’s easiest and safest to simply park your vehicle in an appropriate area if you need to send an email, respond to a text message or complete another activity.

Additionally, there are several steps drivers can take before pulling out of the driveway to prevent distracted driving while on the road:

  • Store all reading materials away from arm’s reach.
  • Set up any driving playlists and limit your radio volume so you can hear emergency vehicles and sirens.
  • Import destination details into GPS or navigation systems.
  • Apply makeup, brush your hair or do any other grooming activities at home.
  • Wait to eat until you are at home or your destination.
  • Complete any lengthy discussions or phone conversations prior to departure.

By following these guidelines and staying attentive while driving, you can keep everyone safer on the road.

Do you know someone who is a distracted driver? Spread the word about distracted driving and share our Wreck-less Checklist via email or anonymously through our website. Together, we can educate more people on the dangers of distracted driving and inspire driver safety.