Distracted Driving

This chart outlines state distracted driving laws. Some localities have additional regulations. Enforcement type is also noted.

  • Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 16 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws—an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
  • Text Messaging: Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 4 have primary enforcement. Of the 3 states without an all driver texting ban, 2 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.

Crash Data Collection: All states except 2 include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms, although the specific data collected varies. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline provides best practices on distraction data collection.

Distracted Driving Law Chart
Law Chart

Preemption Laws: Some states have preemption laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting their own distracted driving bans. States with such laws include – but may not be limited to – Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Carolina.

A PDF chart of state distracted driving laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on distracted driving laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
16 states ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. 38 states ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states prohibit it for school bus drivers. Currently, 47 states ban text messaging for all drivers.

It’s risky to text and drive, but how can you break the habit? We ask the experts

While most drivers acknowledge that using their phone behind the wheel is dangerous, many admit continuing to engage in the behavior. GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins emphasizes the importance of strong, enforceable laws to address the issue.

It’s risky to text and drive, but how can you break the habit? We ask the experts

Story by Simon Hill
January 30, 2019

These California drivers are still on cell phones, despite state’s get-tough law

Distracted driving continues to pose a significant threat on our roads, even though many drivers recognize the risks. California Office of Traffic Safety Director and GHSA Board Member Rhonda Craft addresses the need for a change in public perception.

These California drivers are still on cell phones, despite state’s get-tough law

Story by Tony Bizjak
January 28, 2019

Study Shows Distracted Driving is Changing, but Risks Remain

Statement for attribution to Governors Highway Safety Association Director of Policy and Government Relations Russ Martin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) thanks the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for conducting ongoing research to better understand the prevalence of distracted driving and its role in traffic crashes.

Missouri Buckle Up Phone Down Campaign

Early in 2017, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) launched the Buckle Up Phone Down (BUPD) challenge to drive down the increasing number of fatalities on Missouri roadways. The challenge focuses on two critical issues every Missourian can help address: unbuckled fatalities and distracted driving crashes. While only 13 percent of Missourians aren't buckling up, nearly two-thirds of people killed in crashes in the state are unbuckled.

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