Distracted Driving

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

  • Handheld Cellphone Use: 22 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws — an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cellphone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cellphone Use: No state bans all cellphone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, and 23 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, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but three have primary enforcement. Of the two states without an all-driver texting ban, one prohibits text messaging by novice drivers.

Crash Data Collection: All states except two (Connecticut and New Hampshire) 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
24 states ban drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. 39 states ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, and 20 states prohibit it for school bus drivers. Currently, 48 states ban text messaging for all drivers.

Dangerous Driving Habits at Risk of Returning, Safety Group Warns

As driving begins to return to normal levels across the country after months of lockdown, motorists may fall back into bad driving habits. Even though drivers know that their risky behavior is wrong, many do it anyway, particularly those involved in a recent crash.

Dangerous Driving Habits at Risk of Returning, Safety Group Warns

Story by Tanya Mohn
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