Distracted Driving in the United States

distracted driving in the united states

Over 3,000 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in the United States in 2012. Many states have created legislation limiting the use of electronic devices while driving. These states, rather than the federal government, oversee these laws within their borders. Each state has treated technology use while driving differently. Twelve states currently ban hand-held cell phone usage for drivers. In these states, drivers need to use hands-free software or Bluetooth headsets. Over 40 states ban text messaging while operating a motor vehicle, though. No state has banned all forms of cell phone usage in a moving vehicle yet.
Certain types of drivers receive even harsher restrictions. For instance, many states ban drivers under the age of 18 from using a smartphone. They can’t even use hands-free devices, either. Similarly, individuals that operate public transportation are often barred from using cell phones. Such classes of drivers have caused notable accidents in recent times. Penalties for breaking distracted driving laws vary from state to state. In California, a first-time offender receives a $169 citation. Other states fine drivers a fraction of that total. A distracted driver that causes an accident could see their license suspended. Luckily, very few states impose criminal penalties for distracted driving. Civil penalties tend to increase for each subsequent citation.
In the end, distracted driving in the United States is a huge problem today. Almost 200 billion text messages are sent each month. Drivers spend at least five seconds looking away from the road for every text message. That means if you are driving 55mph, you’re driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. With that in mind, texting is the largest problem when it comes to distracted driving. That helps explain why most states have banned texting while operating a vehicle. Other forms of distracted driving exist that don’t involve technology, too.
Be sure to stay up to date with distracted driving laws in your state to avoid a fine or license suspension. Most importantly, be smart about technology use in your car, and stay safe.