Distracted driving occurs when a person is focusing on tasks other than driving while behind the wheel. This is a very dangerous situation.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents in many areas. That is why states are putting laws into place banning the activity. They hope to encourage people to focus on the road ahead of them.
It is important to note that most states recognize that actions you take behind the wheel are not always illegal. However, those who engage in distracted driving tend to engage in illegal driving. This includes reckless driving, speeding, and not paying attention to oncoming traffic.
Do All States Have Laws in Place?
The only federal distracted driving law relates to commercial drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration governs this law. It stipulated that commercial drivers cannot use any type of hand-held mobile device while behind the wheel.
Still, many states have laws that limit distracted driving for individual drivers like yourself. To find out if your state has these laws, look at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website. There, you will find information about what the laws are. Here are some examples:
- California law prohibits cell phone and electronic wireless device usage among any driver, transit and school bus drivers, except for valid emergency or work-related purposes. Any driver under the age of 18 cannot use a cell phone or any other electronic wireless device at all, not hand-held, hands-free, Bluetooth, speaker phone, or any other means. (Source: ots.ca.gov)
- In Alaska, it is illegal to text while driving.
- In Alabama, it is illegal to send text messages, e-mails, or instant messages while driving. Those under the age of 17 with a license for less than six months cannot use a handheld device at all while behind the wheel.
- In New York, it is unlawful to use any type of handheld device while driving a car. This includes texting and talking.
- In Ohio, it is illegal to text and drive. It is also illegal for any driver to use a cell phone while behind the wheel of the car if they received their first license in the last 12 months. Those under the age of 18 cannot use a phone while driving.
- In Missouri, anyone under the age of 21 cannot text while driving.
- Texas is one of the latest states to pass a statewide ban on texting while driving. The law went into effect in 2017.
Car insurance rates usually go up when distracted driving accidents occur. So, this practice can get costly – and quick.
For those who wish to use a cell phone while behind the wheel, it is best to pull to the side of the road. Send your text message while the vehicle is stopped and out of the way of traffic. Then, get back on the road.
Better yet, if it can wait until later, then wait until later. Your safety, and those of everyone around you, is more important.