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10 of the Top Distractions on the Road that Cause Crashes, Cell Phone Use Ban by State, & Texting Penalties by State

It’s every driver’s nightmare; a car crash resulting from losing concentration for just one second. Even a split second’s lapse in concentration can have catastrophic results and cause drivers to respond badly to a situation.

Oncoming traffic, pedestrians and even buildings are all hazards which need to be avoided but sometimes, there are circumstances which conspire to make drivers take their eyes off the road and even their hands off the wheel and it’s then that disaster can happen. 

List of States Which Ban the Use of Cell Phone

Below is a table showing the states which ban the use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Included in the table is states which have a ban on texting while driving for “all drivers” and “young drivers”.

StateBan Hand - held Electronic DevicesBan on Text Msg*Young Driver Ban on Texting**
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

*Only 4 states do not ban texting and driving

**Be sure to check your local laws for the definition of “young driver”. Typically a driver under the age of 18 is a young driver for most states. In Missouri it is 21 and in Arkansas it is 20.

Source – III.org

List of States Which Ban Texting & Driving

Below is a table of states which ban texting and driving. Included is the penalty when convicted of texting and driving. The average fine is $20 to $500, however, the state of Alaska is as high at $10,000. There are only 4 states which do not have a ban. Which are Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, and South Carolina.

Alabama$25 fineAll drivers
Alaska$10,000 fine and one year in prisonAll drivers
ArizonaNo ban
Arkansas$100 fine and 10 days in prisonAll drivers
California$20 fineAll drivers
Colorado$50 fineAll drivers
Connecticut$100 fineAll drivers
Delaware$50 fineAll drivers
District of Columbia$100 fineAll drivers
FloridaNo ban
Georgia$150 fineAll drivers
HawaiiNo ban
Idaho$81.50All drivers
Illinois$75 fineAll drivers
Indiana$35.50 fineAll drivers
Iowa$30 fineAll drivers
Kansas$60 fineAll drivers
Kentucky$25 fine plus surcharge feesAll drivers
Louisiana$175 fineAll drivers
Maine$250-500 fineAll drivers
Maryland$500 fineAll drivers
Massachusetts $100 fineAll drivers
Michigan$100 fineAll drivers
Minnesota$135 fineAll drivers
Mississippi$500 fineSchool bus drivers, learner's permit and provisional license holders.
Missouri$20.50 fineDrivers younger than 21
MontanaNo ban
Nebraska$200 fineAll drivers
Nevada$50 fineAll drivers
New Hampshire$100 fineAll drivers
New Jersey$100 fineAll drivers
New MexicoDrivers younger than 18 or with learner / provisional license
New York$235 fineAll drivers
North Carolina $100 fine plus surcharge feesAll drivers
North Dakota$100 fineAll drivers
Ohio$150 fineAll drivers
Oklahoma$100 fineLearner's permit or intermediate license holders.
Oregon$250 fineAll drivers
Pennsylvania$50 fineAll drivers
Rhode Island$85 fineAll drivers
South CarolinaNo ban
South DakotaLearner's permit or intermediate license holders
Tennessee$50 fineAll drivers
TexasDrivers younger than 18
Utah$750 fine plus 90 days in prisonAll drivers
Vermont$156 fineAll drivers
Virginia$20 fineAll drivers
Washington$124 fineAll drivers
West Virginia$100 fineAll drivers
Wisconsin$20-$400 fineAll drivers
Wyoming$75 fineAll drivers

Source – III.org

To arm yourself better in the fight for road safety, learn more about the top ten distractions which cause accidents and crashes on our roads.

Eating and Drinking

That’s correct…the top distraction which causes crashes on our roads is completely avoidable. Drivers indulging in an early morning coffee or even a full-on takeaway meal are the number one cause of distraction based crashes at the moment.

If you need to eat or drink, don’t take your life and the lives of others into your own hands and risk death or injury. Pull over, visit a café…take five and eat away from the wheel.

Graph showing top distractions for drivers by percentage.

Note: As illustrated, the most common driving distraction is Daydreaming for all types of drivers. Not paying attention. This falls inline with AAA’s study on teen distracted driving. Instead of daydreaming for AAA’s study it is “interacting with a passenger”.  Please see Teen Distracted Driving chart below. Source – CDC.gov

Music – Reaching for Control Knobs

Another completely avoidable distraction is people flicking through their music collection when their eyes and hands should be elsewhere. Dancing is also a culprit.

Put a selection of tracks on at the start of your journey or listen to the radio…but don’t play the DJ when you should be driving.


Making and taking calls and texts is illegal whilst driving and you need to pull over if there is a call which is urgent. Don’t risk lives.

Fatal car crashes by age showing total, distracted drivers, and cell phone users.

Note: The percentage of driver in the 20 to 29 age group nears 40% for cell phone use when involved in a fatality. In this graph cell phone use includes texting and driving or any use of phone. All others are types of distractions. Source – CDC.gov


Slowing down to look at an accident is the fourth most common reason to end up in one yourself! Accident scenes are by nature hazardous and cars coming behind you may not realize your intentions. Don’t slow down and don’t stop unless requested to do so by emergency services.

Texting & Driving

Texting takes a great deal of concentration and that’s concentration which you can’t afford if you’re meant to be driving. Don’t send a text when you are behind the wheel.

Percentage of drivers by age sending text messages. Shown by male and female.

Note: The percentage of male and female drivers sending text messages is near 50% for teen drivers. The same for drivers age 20 to 29 years old. Source – NSC.org

Seat Belts

Driving without one is considered to be driving without due care and attention. Wear your seat belt…it could save your life.

Falling Asleep

Napping on the job is one thing but napping on the road is another. An astounding 5% of drivers recently quizzed admitted to falling asleep for a few seconds while at the wheel. If you are too tired to stay awake then you are too tired to drive.

New or Unfamiliar Vehicle

Whether it’s the excitement of a new car or just the unfamiliar controls – if you’ve not driven a car for a long period take a time to get used to it. We’d suggest at Frontierleasing to get to know where all the buttons and instruments are and also to know the engine – it may be more or less powerful than you’re used to and this can cause issues.

Teenage distracted driving statistics, percentage of use, and highest cause.

Note: This graph illustrates a study done by AAA.com. According to the study interacting with a passenger cause more accidents than a cell phone. Rubbernecking is to look or stare at something in a foolish manner. “Looking in the car” is looking for something within the vehicle.

Applying Makeup – Uh Oh Female Drivers!

Touching up the lipstick or mascara is all very well but some drivers admitted to applying their entire day’s makeup whilst on the road. This is extremely dangerous and needs to be avoided at all costs.

Graph showing percentage of drivers use social media such as Facebook, snapchat.

Note: Not only is texting and driving a problem. Many drivers have admitted to using other cell phone applications. The top are email, browsing the internet, and using Facebook according to AT&T. Source – Adweek.com

Updating Facebook or Using Social Media Apps

Incredibly there are a number of people who are happy to update their Facebook status whilst driving. This is a major distraction and completely avoidable. Tweeting is another social media habit to blame for accidents which could easily be avoided.

Final Thoughts

The fact is that many of these causes of crashes are totally avoidable and drivers should never take the risks which they bring. Anything which takes your eyes and hands off the task of driving is not something which you should indulge in no matter how short of time you are. It is better to be a little late than dead.

Cormac Reynolds

Cormac Reynolds

Cormac Reynolds is a car lover and an enthusiast of older autos. He writes about his passion for a number of blogs and also enjoys karting.

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