What You Need to Know About Texting and Driving Laws
In 2018, distracted driving contributed to approximately 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries. And despite state and local legislation, cellphone use while driving continues to be a big source of distracted driving.
Texting while driving takes the drivers attention away from the road. And even though it only feels like a second, it could mean the difference between life or death. We need to start taking texting and driving laws more seriously if we want to reverse this tragic trend.
Wondering what the texting and driving laws are in 2020? Keep reading to find out.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
It cannot be overstated how dangerous texting and driving is. Thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands are injured in texting and driving related accidents.
People tend to believe that they can multitask – perform more than one action at a time. But the truth is that these people drastically underestimate how dangerous it is to multitask while driving. It is especially dangerous when the other task requires you to look away from the road in front of you.
Texting while driving may be even more dangerous than drunk driving due to the prevalence of cell phone users that admit to using their phone while driving. While it takes a drunk driver about 4 extra feet to brake, it takes texting drivers up to 70 feet!
The worst part of these tragic texting and driving facts is that most people know how dangerous it is and they choose to do it anyway. Which is why states have started to crack down using new texting and driving laws.
Texting and Driving Laws By State
There are currently no federal laws or mandates about texting and driving. Which is why each state has the opportunity to create their own laws about distracted driving.
Distracted driving is the general term used for visual, manual, or cognitive distraction while driving. And while there are a number of things that contribute to these types of distractions, we know that cellphone use, specifically texting, is a big problem.
Most states currently have laws against texting while driving. People are allowed to use their cellphones to talk provided that they use a hands-free mechanism.
There are still some states without distracted driving laws. Most of these states are actively trying to pass laws against texting and driving. You should always know the laws in your state and be an advocate for creating laws against cellphone use and driving.
Types of Texting and Driving Laws
As mentioned above, most states have some kind of law against texting and driving. But some of the bans look different than others. For example, 25 states (also D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have hand-held cellphone bans. This means that cellphone users can talk on the phone provided that they are not holding their phone to do so.
There are also 36 states that chose to ban all cellphone use for new drivers and teen drivers. Inexperienced young drivers are more likely to get distracted by cellphone use which is dangerous for them and those around them.
Eighteen states have created a law against school bus drivers using their cellphones while driving.
The most common type of law among states is the texting ban. Currently, 48 states (also D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have a ban on text messaging for all drivers. Interestingly, Missouri only bans texting among drivers under the age of 21.
Penalty for Texting and Driving
The penalty for texting and driving also depends on the state. Generally, the first time offense is a fine. And each time after that is an even larger fine. The minimum first time fine in any state with a texting and driving ban is $25.
In Alaska, texting and driving is considered a misdemeanor. It can result in up to a $10,000 fine and a year in prison. Hawaii, Iowa, and Minnesota are also known for hefty fines even for first time offenders.
Penalties for texting and driving are enforced by the police. The goal of the laws and the fines is to deter people from trying to text while driving.
If you are in an accident due to distracted driving or any other reason, you should report it right away. In order to get the outcome you want, make sure you know the reporting statute of limitations in your state.
Safe Cell Phone Use
The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to end any phone or text conversation before getting into the car. Keep your cellphone away from your eyesight if possible.
You can download certain apps with features for driving. The app will usually disable texting while the car is in motion. You can also use the do not disturb while driving feature.
In the case of an emergency, remember to pull the car over before using your cellphone. Make sure to find a safe place to pullover that does not put other cars at risk.
As a passenger, you should feel comfortable telling the driver of the car that you do not want them to text and drive, especially while you are in the car. If you have a friend or family member that is a habitual offender, consider finding a different form of transportation.
If you are a parent to a new driver, be sure to talk to them about the dangers of cellphone use and driving. The penalty for young drivers is often more severe.
Texting and Driving – Just Don’t Do It
It’s important to know about texting and driving laws in your state. But you shouldn’t need an expensive fine to deter you from doing what’s right.
Save your cellphone time for waiting at the bank or sitting in your living room. Because one quick peek at a text message or a brief response that you’re “on your way” could be devastating.
Do the right thing and don’t text and drive.
If you need legal advice, contact us through our website. We will answer your questions and provide whatever support we can offer.