In an effort to combat the dangers of defensive driving, most states have banned texting while driving. In 48 states, text messaging is prohibited for all drivers. Missouri and Montana are the only two U.S. states that don't have a complete ban on texting and driving.
Why the Most States Prohibit Texting While Driving
Texting is so common that many don’t even realize when doing it. But just because it's seemingly an automatic activity doesn't mean that the act requires no attention and focus.
As innocent as it may seem, sending and reading a text message may take your eyes off the road for around five seconds, which can translate to driving an entire football field length with your eyes shut.
As stated by the NHTSA, texting while driving is the most dangerous road distraction, claiming around nine lives each day in the United States. In fact, 14% of fatal car crashes involve inappropriate cell phone use when driving.
For that reason, many states have passed a law that interdicts texting when driving; in most states, it's a primary offense. In 37 states, the act is restricted to the case of novice drivers, and 23 states, including the District of Columbia, have prohibited cell phone handling by bus drivers.
What States Is It Legal to Text and Drive
Missouri and Montana are the only U.S. states where texting and driving are still legal. Arizona and Texas are also said to be lenient to drivers who text and drive, at least under certain circumstances.
Missouri State Law in Text and Drive
Missouri is one of the only two states without a law prohibiting all drivers from using their cell phones while driving.
Missouri's current law bans drivers 21 years and below from texting while driving. The consequence of doing so is a $200 fine and two points against the driver's license. Data from the Missouri Department of Transportation indicates that 70% of drivers using cell phones in Missouri traffic crashes are 22 years or older.
The law also does forbid commercial drivers from using any hand-held communication device, including sending, reading, or writing a text while behind the wheel.
Montana State Law in Text and Drive
Montana is another state that doesn't have existing texting while driving or distracted driving laws. But though it’s technically legal to use your phone when driving, if you cause an accident for the same, you can still be accused of negligent driving in Montana.
Distracted driving is a significant contributor to road accidents in this country -- up to 80% of all car collisions involve some distracted driving. And though Montana has the fifth-highest accident rate in the U.S., the state has been reluctant to implement a distracted driving law.
Nonetheless, if you're driving in Montana, there are areas where texting and driving is prohibited. So, it’s recommendable to have a road map of places where distracted driving laws apply, such as Baker, Billings, Bozeman, Columbia Falls, Great Falls, Hamilton, Helena, Missoula, and Whitefish.