Text messaging is banned in 28 states, Washington, DC, and Guam for all drivers. In 24 of those states, texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning that officers can stop a person for texting while driving even if theyâ€™re not violating any other laws. In the other 4 states, officers can charge a person with texting while driving only after pulling them over for another offense.
Another 9 states prohibit texting while driving by beginning drivers and 2 states prohibit school bus drivers from testing while driving.
The 28 states where texting while driving is a primary offense are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
The 9 states restricting beginning drivers from texting while driving include Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, andÂ West Virginia. Oklahoma and Texas also explicitlyÂ forbid school bus drivers from texting while driving.
So, what about using a GPS system while driving?
The laws are new enough that there isnâ€™t much in the way of legal precedent, but the general consensus among law enforcement officers is that if the GPS device is in a cradle attached to the dash, itâ€™s allowed, but if youâ€™re holding it in your hand to use it, you can be busted under the texting while driving ban. Just a little something to think about behind the wheel.
In the state of Texas alone, in a five year period, more than 1,700 crashes were caused by drivers using their cell phones – whether talking or texting. The American Automobile Association (AAA) would like to ban texting while driving nationwide by the end of 2012.
Law enforcement officers consider holding a handheld device and operating it with your hands or thumbs to be equivalent to texting while driving, whether youâ€™re using your handheld GPS, doing something on your iPhone, or sending a text message on a standard cell phone. They consider the use of a GPS device that is affixed to the dashboard not to constitute texting while driving.
But why test the limits? Officers say itâ€™s fine to pull over to use your handheld device as long as youâ€™re not in an area where youâ€™re not allowed to pull off onto the shoulder. The consequences of missing a turn are typically very small in comparison to the risk of hurting or killing someone