Before crossing state or county lines on your summer road trip, take a moment to learn what the cell phone laws are for any area you plan on visiting.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, talking on a cell phone while driving is now illegal in 8 states, the District of Columbia and many jurisdictions, and texting while driving is banned for all users in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
States that ban talking on cell phones when driving include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington and the District of Columbia. In Utah, talking while driving is illegal only when the driver is also committing another moving violation other than speeding.
Even where states have not implemented bans, restrictions may apply by jurisdiction. Localities that have enacted restrictions on cell phone use include: Oahu, HI; Chicago, IL; Brookline, MA; Detroit, MI; Santa Fe, NM; Brooklyn, North Olmstead, and Walton Hills, OH; Conshohocken, Lebanon, and West Conshohocken, PA; Waupaca County, WI; and Cheyenne, WY.
States that ban texting when driving are highlighted in green on the map below, states shown in blue have restrictions for some driver segments, like young drivers and bus drivers. (For a full description of laws, see the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety‘s interactive maps)
Regardless of the legality of talking or texting while driving, numerous studies have made it clear that driving while talking on a cell phone (hand-held or hands-free), or texting significantly increases your accident risk. Consider the following stats:
- Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Source: Carnegie Mellon)
- Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (Source: NHTSA)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- The annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated at $43 billion (Source: Harvard Center for Risk Analysis).
This summer, may your trips be distraction free and your memories unencumbered by accidents.