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Distracted Driving Laws in the US

Which States Ban Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving?

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Distracted Driving Laws in the US Photo © Jorge Vicente

Distracted driving is a serious problem in the US. Each year, hundreds of people are killed or injured in accidents caused by drivers who are texting or talking on their cell phones. As statistics continue to rise, more and more states are passing distracted driving laws that regulate the use of cell phones in motor vehicles.

As of October 2010, eight states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands have banned all handheld cell phone use while driving. Thirty states, the District of Columbia and Guam have passed laws prohibiting drivers from sending text messages while behind the wheel.

Most states consider cell phone violations to be primary offenses, but a few classify them as secondary offenses, which can only be ticketed if the driver is pulled over for another type of violation.

States, Districts and Territories Banning Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland (Secondary offense)
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • US Virgin Islands
  • All US Military Installations

States, Districts and Territories Banning Text Messaging While Driving

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa (Secondary offense)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska (Secondary offense)
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York (Secondary offense)
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia (Secondary offense)
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Guam
Sources:

Governors Highway Safety Association. "Cell Phone and Texting Laws." Accessed: September 23, 2010. http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Distracted Driving 2009." Accessed: September 24, 2010. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811379.pdf

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