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Distracted Driving: Part 1, Texting Laws and Stats You Will Not Believe

An estimated 20% of the over 1.5 million car accidents resulting in minor to severe injury were reported to have involved distracted driving in 2009. If you think of all the things you do while driving down the road daily, it is no wonder that distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents each year, from fender- bender to fatal injury.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made it his mission to reduce these needless accidents. A USA Today article quotes LaHood as saying, "It is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted-driving accidents." As an Atlanta auto accident attorney, I always try to find out whether a driver involved was using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

LaHood’s focusis on drivers texting and cellphone use while behind the wheel. And, it isn’t just the kids anymore. Statistics from show the number of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes increased from 7% in 2005 to 11% in 2009. Of those drivers, 30-to-39-year-old group had the highest proportion distracted by cellphone use. Those are not the numbers I expected to see!

Since 1992, states have been enacting laws to curb our multi-tasking tendencies. The laws vary from state to state and the penalties are just as varied. For example, Georgia has a zero tolerance for texting while driving and the penalty is a fine of $150. However, just across the border in Florida, there are no laws against texting or cellphone use while driving. Keep reading to see the laws in your state.

States that ban all texting while driving: GA, NC, VA, NJ, NY, CT, NH, VT, MI, KY, TN, LA, AR, WI, MN, IA, OK, KS, WY, CO, CA, UT, OR, WA, AK, MA, DE, MD, RI, MS (as of 7/1/11), ME (as of 7/1/11), ND (as of 8/1/11), ME (as of 9/1/11), NV (as of 1/1/12)

States that have no ban against texting while driving: FL, SC, PA, OH, NE, SD, MT, AZ, NV, ID, HI

The other states have some gray areas. Check them all out for yourself with this Cell Phone and Texting Laws chart provided by the GHSA.

Check in soon for Part 2 to find out how the campaign against distracted driving is impacting the statistics.

Additional resource:

Temple University. "Using cell phones while driving? Distracted driving data and laws to prevent it don’t match up." ScienceDaily, 10 Jun. 2011. Web. 20 Jul. 2011.

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