Most states have passed laws that limit telephone use while behind the wheel. They either have a hands-free ban in place for all drivers or have a law that applies to some drivers or when a driver is in a certain location or situation. The majority of the states also have laws against texting and driving.
The goal of enacting all of these laws is to help drivers remain focused on the road when they are behind the wheel. Texting or dialing the phone can cause physical, mental, and visual distractions. It takes the driver’s hands, eyes, and mind off the road. Read on to learn what states are hands-free.
Which States Have Hands-Free Driving Laws?
According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), as of September 2023, 29 U.S. states (plus the District of Columbia) have a ban on using handheld devices for all drivers anytime they are behind the wheel. These hands-free states include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
States With Other Cell Phone or Handheld Device Restrictions
While the above-listed states have full bans on using any handheld device while driving, other states have less-strict laws regarding handheld devices. These include:
- Young drivers: Alabama and Arkansas have hands-free laws that apply to teen drivers.
- Public transit workers: Oklahoma has laws that ban individuals who work public transit jobs, such as bus drivers, from using handheld devices behind the wheel.
- Driving in certain areas: Wisconsin, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida ban handheld device use in certain areas, such as school or work zones.
- Texting or cell phone bans: While they may not outlaw using all handheld devices while driving, nearly all states have bans on texting while driving, and many ban cell phone use altogether. Montana is the only state with no laws restricting cell phone use while driving.
With ever-changing laws on this hotly debated topic, more and more states are likely to follow suit with stricter regulations. After all, these types of hands-free laws keep our roadways inherently safer. When fewer people use handheld devices in moving vehicles, drivers will be more focused on the job at hand: arriving safely at their destination.
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Hands-Free Laws Make Roads Safer for All
Hands-free driving laws keep our roadways safer for various reasons, but mostly because they keep drivers’ eyes on the road. When a driver is busy texting or answering a phone call by hand, they are taking their eyes off the changing road conditions in front of them and the traffic around them. While that text may only take a few seconds to send, that time can mean the difference between life and death.
It would be one thing if texting and driving only endangered the offender’s life, but that is not the case. When drivers choose to distract themselves from the roadway—either knowingly or unknowingly—they are risking the lives of everybody in their general vicinity, including others in their car and the occupants of other vehicles. In the case of Randall Siddens, his unfortunate story has helped his home State, Missouri, enact the Siddens Bening hands-free law in August of 2023. This makes Missouri a recent addition to the “hands-free” states.
Lawmakers Recognize the Dangers of Handheld Cell Phone Use
As smartphones have become more and more prevalent in our modern world, states have started to see first-hand the type of devastation that cell phone distracted driving can cause. After so many years of tragedies, legislators are finally beginning to take action for the safety of their states’ citizens. Soon, these laws could become even more widespread.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 48 states have banned texting and driving since 2007. The same rapid passage of handheld device use bans could be underway. This is because it is not just texting that is a problem.
Smartphones offer a seemingly endless supply of distractions at the push of a button or the simple utterance of a voice command. With mobile game apps, music playlists, social media networks, and more, there have never been more ways to take your attention off the road. These distractions have cost countless people their lives and livelihoods.
What Happens After a Cell Phone Distraction Crash?
Modern smartphones are a good thing. A world of knowledge at the press of a button, keeping up with loved ones, and storing memories to last a lifetime are all good things. However, giving drivers more ways to be distracted is not a cause we can get behind.
It does not matter if the state has laws against it or not. When a driver chooses to use their cell phone behind the wheel, they are putting lives at risk and are acting negligently. If they cause an injury accident, they could:
- Get a ticket
- Receive criminal penalties, such as fines
- Face a civil case filed by any victims of the crash
- Be legally responsible for the injuries and damages suffered by others
While the law may play a role in whether the individual gets a ticket or faces other criminal consequences for causing a crash, it likely will not matter in the civil case against the at-fault driver.
To recover compensation based on a distracted driving crash, victims generally do not have to prove the driver was using their cell phone. They only have to show the effects of that distraction, such as running a red light, veering into a neighboring lane, or other driving mistakes.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You After a Distracted Driving Crash
Here at the Morris Bart law firm, our team of car accident attorneys will do everything in their power to protect our clients’ rights to compensation. Anyone who has ever been the victim of a distracted driving accident will tell you how negatively it affected their life. Even if the physical injuries are minor, the psychological damage can last a lifetime.
The financial effects of an accident, including medical bills and lost wages, can also cause additional stress and frustration. This is why we provide free consultations for accident victims and represent them based on contingency. This allows us to front the costs of:
- Investigating what happened
- Developing a case to support financial recovery
- Identifying and valuing losses and expenses
- Filing an insurance claim and demanding a fair payout
- Suing the at-fault driver, if needed
You May Be Able to Receive Compensation for Your Losses
We fight for financial recovery for our clients, seeking monetary damages to help them cover the costs of injury treatment, lost income, vehicle repairs, pain and suffering, and more. We can often negotiate a just settlement with the insurer representing a distracted driver because they know we have strong evidence that could cost them even more money in court.
However, our trial lawyers are ready to sue and go to trial if necessary in your case. We can present strong evidence of fault and liability in many distracted driving cases and secure a jury verdict and court award for our client.
We can discuss your legal options and evaluate your case with you today for free.
Contact Our Team of Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a texting and driving or distracted driving accident, we would love to talk to you. We have 15 offices to serve car accident victims in the Gulf South. Our service area includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We are a contingency-fee law firm and provide free case assessments.
To learn more about our services, call (800) 537-8185 for your free consultation.
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