According to a recent report in USA Today, more and more laws aimed at limiting cellphone use and texting while driving are being introduced. According to the report, “More than 250 bills prohibiting or restricting cellphone use while driving are pending in 42 state legislatures despite disagreement over the risks cellphones pose and the effectiveness of enforcement.
The number is up from about 120 bills in just 18 states 10 months ago, according to an analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a safety research group funded by insurers. Four states — Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina and Texas — are considering banning all types of cellphone usage behind the wheel, including hands-free devices.”
In an accompanying article, the paper compiled a chart listing a sampling of pending legilation that would restrict texting or cell phones.
These laws are controversial – many of the public, particularly younger drivers – are opposed to any restrictions whatsoever. While police often support some restrictions, they worry about enforcement. Many favor a broader policy aimed at all “distracted driving” issues, and many others suggest that prohibitions should focus on novice drivers or drivers of public transportation. But others are in favor of total restrictions. Some of the legislative activity was spurred by the National Safety Council’s (NSC) call for a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. This recommendation was based on a study by the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis which found that cell phone use while driving contributes to 6 percent of crashes, equating to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC also cited several other safety studies in their recommendation.
Cell phone and texting laws in your state
The Governors Highway Safety Association maintains a chart listing state driving laws related to cell phone usage and texting. The chart was updated in February of this year, so it is pretty current.
Here is a summary:
- CA, CT, DC, NJ, NY and WA ban hand-held phones outright for all drivers; several other states allow banning by jurisdiction or have provisions limiting the use of handhelds. Some states treat cell phone use as a larger distracted driving issue.
- No state completely bans all types of cell phone use (handheld and hands-free), but many prohibit cell phone use by certain segments of the population, such as novice drivers or school bus drivers.
- 8 states AK, AR, CA, CT, LA, MN, NJ and WA ban text messaging