In most states, you can be pulled over and ticketed for texting while driving. Some states also ban handheld cell phone use.
Any activity that distracts a driver can lead to a serious accident. Other common distractions include eating and drinking, grooming, reading maps/directions, adjusting the radio, and more.
These activities may seem harmless, but the fact is that hundreds of thousands of people in the United States are killed or injured every year as a result of distracted driving.
What can you do? Concentrate on driving when you’re behind the wheel—it’s not the time for multi-tasking.
Look up the laws in your state and wherever you plan to drive.
Visit Distraction.gov to get more information about distracted driving.
April is National Distracted Driving Prevention Month. Learn if your state has banned cell phone use while driving.
Distracted driving is a dangerous and common practice —and it’s becoming an even bigger problem on the nation’s roads as more drivers are text messaging while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the percentage of drivers who text messaged or manipulated their mobile devices while driving went up significantly, from 0.6 percent in 2009 to 0.9 percent to 2010. The latest federal figures show more than 3,000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because of drivers who were texting, using a phone or were distracted by something else.
Texting and Driving Can Be a Lethal Combination
Distractions behind the wheel include eating, talking to other passengers, or changing the radio, but there is one that is especially dangerous: reading or writing text messages. Doing this increases the risk of an accident by 2,300 percent.
But you don’t have to be typing away to be at risk of having or causing an accident:
- Drivers who use mobile devices are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others.
- Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent, the legal limit in most states.
- Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
Tips for Changing Your Habits
Habits can be hard to break, but these tips can help you get started:
- Turn off your phone before driving away, or store it somewhere where you can’t reach it.
- If you have an urgent call you need to attend, find a safe place to park before using your phone.
- Ask another passenger to answer your calls or messages.
- Designate a copilot that can help you use other electronics in the car such as your navigation system or the radio.
How to Talk to Your Teens
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In fact, 16 percent of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.
There are several things parents or guardians can do to help reduce the risk of distracted driving in the family. First, set the example by refusing to drive distracted. In addition, you should:
- Talk to your children about the dangers of distracted driving.
- Make a commitment that no family member will drive and use mobile devices at the same time.
- Establish consequences for not following the rules.
- Speak up if the driver of the vehicle is using a cell phone.
- Take the time to get to know your state’s cell phone laws and share them with your children.
Faces of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a serious problem. In 2009, it killed nearly 5,500 people and injured 500,000 more.
The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to end this dangerous practice on our nation’s roadways. If you have a story about distracted driving, please share it at distraction.gov and maybe it will make someone think twice.
Share your distracted driving story.
WOMAN’S VOICE: I couldn’t believe this happened to our family.
WOMAN’S VOICE: Why aren’t people screaming from the rooftops that this is dangerous?
GIRL’S VOICE: Because someone made one stupid mistake, I’m an only child.
MALE VOICE: I said, you’ve got to stop this. You’re going to have a wreck.
In the last few years, many states have passed laws about how drivers can use cellphones while in their cars. Each state’s laws are slightly different. Here’s a general overview of what you need to know about cellphone use in cars.
- Handheld Cell Phones: Nine states, Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.
- All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but many prohibit cell phone use by novice drivers and school bus drivers.
- Text Messaging: 34 states, Washington D.C. and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. Three states restrict school bus drivers from texting while driving.
Some states such as Maine, New Hampshire and Utah treat cell phone use and texting as part of a larger distracted driving issue. In Utah, cellphone use is an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).
Learn more about the laws in your state and find a full list of cellphone use laws in all states.