Which States Still Allow Texting and Driving?


Research is clear: cell phone use while driving, including texting, increases the risk of an accident. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving causes about 1.6 million accidents per year. Specifically, texting and driving is believed to contribute to up to 16% car accidents. No state bans all cell phone use while driving but a growing number of states are passing legislation to ban texting and driving.

Reference: Distracted Driving

So, which states still allow texting while driving? Here’s what you should know.

Which States Ban Texting and Driving?

Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving in 2007. A ban on texting and driving went into effect in Texas last year, and more states are expected to join the trend. 47 states plus Washington, D.C. now have texting bans. All of these states except four have primary enforcement which means a police officer can cite a driver for texting while driving even if no other traffic offense occurred. In some states, texting is allowed when voice-activated with a hands-free device. In Oregon and Washington, drivers may not even hold a cell phone in one or both hands, even while temporarily stationary at a red light or stop sign.

Reference: Distracted Driving Accidents

Which States Allow Texting and Driving?

Only three states now allow texting while driving but three of them do ban text messaging by inexperienced drivers. Montana is the only state with no state-wide ban on cell phone use or texting while driving, although texting and driving is illegal in some municipalities. Arizona and Missouri have partial bans on texting and driving. Missouri bans texting and driving for novice drivers under 21 years old. Arizona prohibits cell phone use while driving for learner’s permit and intermediate license holders during the first six months of the license. Many major cities like Tucson and Phoenix have adopted laws banning all drivers from texting and driving, however.

Reference: Cell Phones and Texting

Is There a Federal Ban on Texting and Driving?

There is no federal law prohibiting drivers from texting while driving across the United States but there are two federal bans in place for specific occupations. In 2009, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving government-owned vehicles. In 2010, DOT announced a federal ban on texting for bus drivers and truckers.

Reference: U.S. State and Federal Laws Targeting Distracted Driving

In just over a decade, the United States has gone from 0 to 47 states plus D.C. banning texting and driving. It likely won’t be long until texting while driving is illegal across the country.

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