Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in 10 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia. Except for Maryland and West Virginia (until July 2013), these laws are Primary Enforcement which means an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place. Under Secondary Laws, an officer must have some other reason to stop a vehicle before citing a driver for using a cellphone.
The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 32 states and the District of Columbia and the use of all cellphones while driving a school bus with passengers is prohibited in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 39 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in 5 states (Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) and school bus drivers are banned from text messaging in 3 states (Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas).
Many localities have enacted their own bans on cellphones or text messaging. However, due to Preemption Laws, states like Florida prohibit localities from enacting such laws.
Recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that the first generation of all-driver cell phone ban laws was generally effective at reducing use of hand-held cell phones while driving but not at reducing crashes. It is unclear why. Policymakers should consider cell phone ban laws that include hands-free devices, as well as supportive activities such as primary enforcement, law enforcement education, publicizing enforcement, and public education and awareness efforts to make them more effective.
No one will argue that Distracted Driving has become a huge problem in this country and many accidents are happening because of it. The argument is whether or not laws banning these activities are helping or not. As of now, the jury is still out. Currently Florida is one of the few states that have no laws banning the use of cell phones including texting.
We at Sinclair Law Offices strongly encourage everyone to take this matter of Distracted Driving seriously. We have all seen someone driving down the road with their head down texting, changing music on their iPpod, or talking on the phone. It only takes a few seconds of distraction on the roadway to change your life forever.