Following are the state cell phone and text messaging laws enforced for vehicle and passenger safety. Some local jurisdictions may have additional regulations.
• Handheld Cell Phones
: 8 states (Calif., Conn., Del., Md., N.J., N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.
oExcept for Maryland, all laws are primary enforcement—an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
• All Cell Phone Use
: No state bans all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers, but many prohibit all cell phone use by certain drivers:
oNovice Drivers: 28 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers.
oSchool Bus Drivers: Bus drivers in 18 states and D.C. may not use a cell phone when passengers are present.
• Text Messaging
: 30 states, D.C. and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. 11 of these laws were enacted in 2010. 26 states, D.C., and Guam have primary enforcement. In the other four, texting bans are secondary.
• Novice Drivers
: An additional 8 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
• School Bus Drivers
: 2 states restrict school bus drivers from texting while driving.
• Some states such as Maine, N.H. 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).
• Crash Data Collection
: Many states include a category for cell phone/electronic equipment distraction on police accident report forms. Recently proposed federal legislation would require states to collect this data in order to qualify for certain federal funding.
• Preemption Laws
: Many localities have passed their own distracted driving bans. However, some states – such as Fla., Ky., La., Miss., Nev., and Okla. – prohibit localities from enacting such laws.
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