Texting While Driving: It Can Wait

BY GENA HUFF, Editor

Everyone has the impulse. At this point in our society, it is more like instinct. The notification sound goes off on the cell and the instant reaction is to reach for the phone. So, we look. And wham, within that second or three of distraction, we can turn whole worlds on their head.

In April of 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) kicked off a national distracted driving campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” The campaign targeted motorists aged 18-34, those most likely to die in distraction-affected crashes. This was the fifth year for the campaign and was supported by a $5 million national media buy.

“Cell phones have a place in our lives, but not while driving,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “Everyone should understand the very real dangers of texting while driving. Taking your eyes off the road for a moment is all it takes to cause a crash and change lives forever. Remember, no text or call is worth a life.”

No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers. But according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 38 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) ban all cell phone use for novice or teen drivers, and 21 states and D.C. ban any cell phone use for school bus drivers. Forty-seven states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging while driving, only Arizona and Montana give the okay for texting, Missouri bans it for those drivers under 21 years old.

As of July 1, 2018, Georgia joined the growing ranks of those states banning the use of hand-held devices while driving. Other states and territories with some form of hand-held ban are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee (in school zones as of Jan. 1, 2018), Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and West Virginia.

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