Map Monday: State Bans on Texting and Driving

This map, from Mother Jones, shows bans and fines on texting and driving in the different US states:

texting fines map

Check out Alaska!

Here’s what the article has to say:

The leading cause of death for teenage drivers is now texting, not drinking, with nearly a dozen teens dying each day in a texting-related car crash. Stark figures like this have driven 46 states to pass legislation banning texting and driving. But texting fines vary wildly across the country, and you’ll end up paying a little or a lot depending on where you got caught.

IMO we don’t take the distracted driving issue seriously enough. (See my first ever post.) Education campaigns help you feel like your doing something, but rigorous enforcement and serious fines are the only policy solution to this problem that will actually work.

10 thoughts on “Map Monday: State Bans on Texting and Driving

  1. Nicole

    It would be interesting to see if the states that have stiffer penalties or fines have lowered their rates of collisions and fatalities.

  2. Nicole

    It would be interesting to see if the states that have instituted stiffer fines and penalties have seen reduced rates of collisions and fatalities.

    1. Doug TrummDoug Trumm

      It would also be interesting to see the actual rates of citations. Are these laws being enforced?

  3. Matt Brillhart

    In the recent legislative session, MN lawmakers increased fines for repeat offenders, up to $225. No serious discussion has taken place in MN to fully ban use of mobile devices while driving (hands-free Bluetooth excluded of course). Mobile device use is banned for drivers under 18 and those with provisional licenses, so that’s a good start. Banning handheld use for all drivers really seems like something we could accomplish in the so-called “nanny state”…it’s surprising that we haven’t already done so.

  4. GlowBoy

    Having just moved from Oregon, which has a (relatively) high fine of $500, I can speak to what’s happening there. Cops will bust people if they catch them, but it’s hard to catch texters unless you sit somewhere and actually watch everyone going by. On my daily bike ride across the Ross Island Bridge sidewalk I would typically see several oncoming drivers interacting with their phones’ screens, and this would be an ideal location for such a sting, but I have not heard of them happening even in Oregon.

    The only really significant enforcement I’ve heard of anecdotally is Beaverton Police officers citing people for texting while stopped at red lights. Which is technically illegal, and may sometimes contribute to traffic delays if the light goes green while someone’s looking down, but is several orders of magnitude less dangerous than texting while the vehicle is in motion. Going for the easy citations but missing the point IMO.

    Violations are still rampant in Oregon and you don’t have to watch your fellow drivers very long at all to see someone texting, but my observation is that the problem is even worse here.

  5. GlowBoy

    Speaking to the enforcement difficulty, contrast this with driving drunk. If a cop sees a driver weaving around or doing something else stupid, they can pull over the car.

    If the driver is drunk there is nothing the driver can do to immediately sober up. In the early days of driving DWI was subjective and difficult to prove legally, but Implied Consent laws, Breathalyzers and blood tests changed that. Now alcohol testing is largely effective in convicting drunk drivers, and Implied Consent heavily penalizes those who refuse testing.

    If, on the other hand, the driver is sober and texting (equally dangerous!) they can put down the phone, and unless the cop actually witnessed them texting it’s pretty difficult to establish that they were doing it. Here’s what needs to change.
    – We need an Implied Consent law for phones: if you get behind the wheel, you automatically give consent for police to search your phone immediately upon pulling you over on suspicion of impaired driving.
    – Smartphones need to include better tools for law enforcement to review recent activity on the device: what apps were in use and how they were being used at each moment, correlated with vehicle speed based on the phone’s GPS. This is not technically difficult to do, but would require additional mandatory software on the phone.

    In other words, cops should be able to pull over suspected impaired drivers, search their cellphones easily using a standardized app to see what they were just doing, and have the ability to haul them off to jail if they refuse to hand over their phone for a search.

  6. GlowBoy

    Philosophically it’s nothing different than the Implied Consent laws we already have to alcohol: if you get behind the wheel, you automatically consent to a search of your body if you are pulled over *with probable cause*. I consider my body a lot more private than my cellphone, and I accept that when I drive.

    To limit the potential for abuse, the software could be limited to only disclosing to the officer what’s been done on the phone in the past few minutes, for instance.

    Driving is NOT a right; it is a privilege, and everyone who has taken Drivers Ed knows that. (As an aside, I’m glad to be now living in a state with mandatory DE for young drivers, which is not the case in Oregon). If you don’t want your breath, urine or phone searched, don’t drive.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      While the Supreme Court may agree with you, I don’t think that can be squared with the 4th Amendment at all, and I’m opposed to further eroding this already woefully eroded bulwark of civil liberties.

      We’ve gutted it because cars are easy to move, because drugs are scary and because terrorism is scary already. That’s enough.

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