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NHTSA Digest summarizes nation’s distracted driving laws

The prevalence of mobile devices at the turn of the millennium brought connectivity never before thought possible-but it also caused an increase in auto accidents. Drivers everywhere began using the devices behind the wheel of a car instead of focusing on driving.

As a result, states began passing laws limiting cellphone use while driving. Limits on the types of devices and activities, including texting and utilizing navigation systems, were put in place. So how do the states stack up against each other today?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation referred to as the NHTSA, put together comparisons that can now be found in the first ever Digest of Distracted Driving Laws.

The digest provides a summary of all types of distracted driving laws that have been implemented in all 50 states plus D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico.

The report points out a few statistics that show just how far states have come in passing laws pertaining to the use of mobile devices behind the wheel:

Text messaging while driving

The digest reveals that to date a total of 41 states plus D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned text messaging behind the wheel of a car.

And, Massachusetts is among the list. The state has even deemed texting while driving a primary law. This means that the driver can be cited just for texting without committing any other traffic violations. States that have passed texting laws as secondary only, such as Iowa, allow officers to ticket for text messaging only after drivers are cited for another traffic violation, such as speeding.

Hand-held devices

The report also reveals that 12 states plus D.C, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have implemented laws prohibiting all drivers from using hand-held devices while operating a vehicle.

In the State of Massachusetts, hands-free cellphones are also banned for bus drivers and novice, or beginner drivers. This law is also primary.

Auto accident data collection

Additionally, all 50 states have implemented police reports that include sections for distracted driving information in the event of an auto accident. The reports are modeled after the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, or MMUCC, which outlines various elements for authorities to collect at the time of an accident. Vehicles involved in the crash, injured parties, and environmental factors are few examples. Although modeled after the MMUCC, each state varies on what data is collected.

The future of distracted driving laws

It’s likely the next MMUCC digest will be different. As technology advances and new distracted driving behaviors come about, states will no doubt pass new or stricter laws to combat the rise in auto accidents from distracted driving.

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