Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: May 1, 2021

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Drivers have become increasingly aware of the dangers involved in distracted driving, largely thanks to the fact that most states have strict laws banning cell phone use, which is the most common driving distraction.

Harsh Laws Coming to Penalize Texting & Driving?

These laws call for harsh punishments for drivers who are caught talking or texting while behind the wheel, which should deter them from doing it, and avoid all other types of distractions that cause accidents quite often.

This is an illustration chart showing the percentage of drivers involved in an auto accident which was cause by distracted driving or cell phone use.
Nearly 40 percent of drivers ages 20 – 29 are distracted by a cell phone which caused a vehicle accident. Chart credit to CDC.gov

But, according to a survey that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted recently, most drivers now know how dangerous it is to use an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle, but they continue to do it, nonetheless.

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Texting & Driving Cause Fatalities Yet Drivers Still Text & Drive

The NHTSA survey found that 660,000 drivers use cell phones or some other electronic devices while behind the wheel, which is a highly alarming number, that has been practically the same for the last couple of years.

This chart shows the percentage of drivers by age sending text messages while driving. The higher percentage is 18 to 24 year old male and female drivers.
Nearly 50 percent of drivers from 18 to 24 send text messages while driving. Chart credit to CDC.gov

With this fact in mind, it’s no surprise that there are thousands of car accidents caused by distracted driving that result in serious injury or death. According to the NHTSA, more than 3,300 people were killed in 2011 in crashes caused by some sort of driving distraction.

Some Drivers Support Cell Phone Ban

However, there is one finding from this survey that is quite surprising. It’s the fact that 74 percent of drivers who were polled said that they support hand-held cell phone use bans, and 94 percent of them are in favor of text messaging bans, and they think that the average fine for these offenses should be at least $200.

This is very odd, if you take into consideration that almost 50 percent of American drivers admit to answering phone calls while driving, and almost a quarter of them admit to making phone calls while driving.

Most Drivers Know Distracted Driving is Risky

Another interesting fact this survey has provided is that most drivers feel that distracted driving is risky when other drivers do it, but they are not aware that certain distractions affect their own driving, as well.

That’s why NHTSA Administrator David Strickland has said that he “urges all motorists to use common sense and keep their attention focused solely on the task of safe driving.”

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List of States Which Ban Texting & Driving

Currently, there are text messaging bans in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, while 10 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban all drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

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
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However, these states allow drivers to use hands-free cell phones, by using a Bluetooth headset or some sort of voice activated system.

Although these laws have been in place for a while now, state authorities have stepped up their enforcement only recently, putting more distracted driving patrols on highways, and urging police officers to be more vigilant of drivers who use their cell phones or do some other activities that cause driving distractions.

List of States which Ban Use of Hand-held Cell or Electronic Device

Currently there are 11 states which ban the use of an electronic device:

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
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*All but 4 states ban texting and driving. 2 of the states, Texas and Missouri, ban the use by novice drivers.

**Typically any driver under the age of 18 is considered a young or “novice” driver. In Missouri it is 21 and Arkansas it is a driver 20 Y/0 or younger. Be sure to check your local laws and jurisdiction.

List of Top Apps to Help Stop Texting and Driving

RankApp to Prevent Texting and DrivingiOS / Android*
1DriveOFFY / Y
2DriveModeY / Y
3TextBusterN / Y
4DriveScribeY / Y
5CanaryY / Y
6CellcontrolY / Y
7Drive Safe ModeY / Y
8Live2TxtN / Y
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With all this in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges drivers to avoid texting and talking on a cell phone while driving at any cost, except in case of emergency.

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