According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is a major menace on America’s roads, and the biggest distraction is using a cell phone while driving. In 2020, there were 3,142 fatal distracted driving crashes in America, which made up about 8%. of all road deaths during the year. It is estimated that cell phone use by drivers causes 1.6 million crashes per year and 390,000 injuries. Text messaging while driving turns out to be six times more likely than drunk driving to cause a crash.
States have moved broadly to limit cell phone use by drivers. As of April 2022, talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is banned in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.
In addition to handheld cellphone bans, twenty-three states and the District of Columbia also ban any use of cell phones by school bus drivers. Laws for new or younger drivers are even more restrictive. The use of all cell phones by novice drivers is restricted in 36 states and the District of Columbia. In almost all states that restrict or ban the use of cellphones by drivers, the violation is a “primary” offense, which means police can pull you over and ticket you without some other violation.
Text messaging while driving is banned for all drivers in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The only exceptions are Montana, which allows for text messaging while driving, and Missouri, which bans texting by drivers under 21.