Distracted driving is a serious issue in the United States. To paint a picture of the severity, you should know that 1.6 million accidents per year are caused by distracted driving and 11 teens die every day as a result of it.
In recent years, both law enforcement and the government have identified the issues of distracted driving and put laws in place to reduce it. Although this is a step in the right direction, many people are still unaware of how these laws affect them. So, before the next time you hit the road, take a moment to familiarize yourself with what distracted driving is the laws regarding it.
Distracted Driving is More Than Just Texting
Most people associate distracted driving with texting. While texting causes the most accidents and casualties, there are other forms that can get you into trouble as well. Eating, applying makeup/driving, moving about the car, reading, watching videos and using the GPS while driving are all considered distracted driving.
To protect yourself and other drivers, anytime you need to do something that would take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel or mind off of driving, pull to the side of the road.
Laws Vary By State
Texting and other forms of distracted driving are always dangerous, but the laws pertaining to them are not the same across all 50 states. Currently, 47 states have a ban on texting and driving. However, using a handheld device (cell phone) to talk on the phone while driving is only illegal in 14 states.
Know the laws regarding cell phone usage and texting while driving in your state. If you are in a state that bans the usage of a handheld device or texting while driving you could receive a citation without committing any other offense.
Different Laws Apply to Different Age Groups
The largest group of distracted driving offenders is teenagers. New drivers are more likely to use their cell phone or become distracted by other passengers in the car. In certain states, there are laws that apply only to “novice drivers” (someone who has had their license for less than two years). For example, in most states, it is illegal for new drivers to have more than one passenger in the car that is not a blood relative because it is thought to be more of a distraction.
If you have a new driver in your household, educate them on distracted driving laws and the consequences both lawful and moral.
Then, next time you drive, remember that your life and the life of others is more important than a text message, fixing your hair, or making a phone call. Those things can wait. Just enjoy the drive.