Cell Phone & 'Texting While Driving' Laws

Learn about cell phone and texting while driving laws in all 50 states.

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Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents. In 2009, 20 percent of all injury-causing car accidents involved distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And a driver who is using a hand-held device is four times as likely to get into a serious-injury car accident, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is all on top of numerous studies showing that drivers who use a cell phone while driving (even those who go hands-free) have their reaction time and judgment impaired to the same level as a driver who is legally intoxicated. In this section we provide the various state laws that have been passed to deal with this relatively new driving phenomenon. 

What is meant by 'texting while driving?'

Laws that prohibit 'texting,' usually prohibit more than the process of sending and receiving text messages on a cell phone. Typically, they prohibit drivers from using a cell phone, text messaging device, personal digital assistant (PDA), computer, or similar wireless device to write, send, or read text data while driving. The ban usually applies to text messages, instant messages (IM), email, and Internet data. These laws also typically create exceptions for emergency personnel, drivers responding to emergencies, and drivers who are fully parked.

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