Distracted Driving

This chart outlines state distracted driving laws. Some localities have additional regulations. Enforcement type is also noted.

  • Handheld Cellphone Use: 25 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws — an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cellphone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cellphone Use: No state bans all cellphone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, and 23 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
  • Text Messaging: Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but three have primary enforcement. Of the two states without an all-driver texting ban, one prohibits text messaging by novice drivers.

Crash Data Collection: All states except two (Connecticut and New Hampshire) include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms, although the specific data collected varies. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline provides best practices on distraction data collection.

Distracted Driving Law Chart
Law Chart

Preemption Laws: Some states have preemption laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting their own distracted driving bans. States with such laws include — but may not be limited to — Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Carolina.

A PDF chart of state distracted driving laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on distracted driving laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
24 states ban drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. 39 states ban all cellphone use by novice drivers, and 20 states prohibit it for school bus drivers. Currently, 48 states ban text messaging for all drivers.
Wyoming
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Wyoming
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Wyoming
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Wyoming
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Wisconsin
Hand-Held Ban?

No, except in work zones.

Wisconsin
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Wisconsin
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Wisconsin
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

West Virginia
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

West Virginia
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

West Virginia
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18 with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

West Virginia
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Washington
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Washington
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Washington
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Washington
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Virginia
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law. (eff. 1/1/21)

Virginia
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Virginia
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

Virginia
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Virgin Islands
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Virgin Islands
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Virgin Islands
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Virgin Islands
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Vermont
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Vermont
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Vermont
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Vermont
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Utah
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Utah
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Utah
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Utah
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Texas
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes, in school crossing zones and on public school property only. Primary law.

Texas
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes, with minor passengers. Primary law.

Texas
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Texas
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Tennessee
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Tennessee
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Tennessee
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Tennessee
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers, while vehicle is in motion. Primary law.

South Dakota
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

South Dakota
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

South Dakota
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Secondary law.

South Dakota
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Secondary law.

South Carolina
Hand-Held Ban?

No

South Carolina
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

South Carolina
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

South Carolina
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Rhode Island
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Rhode Island
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Rhode Island
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Rhode Island
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Puerto Rico
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Puerto Rico
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Puerto Rico
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Puerto Rico
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Pennsylvania
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Pennsylvania
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Pennsylvania
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Pennsylvania
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Oregon
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Oregon
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Oregon
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Oregon
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Oklahoma
Hand-Held Ban?

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Oklahoma
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Oklahoma
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Oklahoma
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Secondary law.

Ohio
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Ohio
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Ohio
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Ohio
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

North Dakota
Hand-Held Ban?

No

North Dakota
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

North Dakota
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

North Dakota
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

North Carolina
Hand-Held Ban?

No

North Carolina
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

North Carolina
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

North Carolina
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

New York
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

New York
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

New York
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

New York
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

New Mexico
Hand-Held Ban?

No

New Mexico
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

New Mexico
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or provisional license. Primary law.

New Mexico
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

New Jersey
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

New Jersey
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

New Jersey
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with permit or provisional license. Primary law.

New Jersey
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

New Hampshire
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

New Hampshire
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

New Hampshire
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

New Hampshire
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Nevada
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Nevada
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Nevada
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Nevada
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Nebraska
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Nebraska
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Nebraska
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18 with learner or intermediate license. Secondary law.

Nebraska
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Secondary law.

Montana
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Montana
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Montana
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Montana
Text Messaging Ban?

No

Missouri
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Missouri
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Missouri
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Missouri
Text Messaging Ban?

For drivers 21 and under. Primary law.

Mississippi
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Mississippi
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Mississippi
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Mississippi
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Minnesota
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Minnesota
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Minnesota
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner under 18 or provisional licenses. Primary law.

Minnesota
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Michigan
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Michigan
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes, handheld ban. Primary law.

Michigan
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 license. Primary law.

Michigan
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Massachusetts
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Massachusetts
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Massachusetts
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Massachusetts
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Maryland
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Maryland
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes, handheld ban. Primary law.

Maryland
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Maryland
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Maine
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Maine
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Maine
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Maine
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Louisiana
Hand-Held Ban?

Drivers with learner or intermediate license, regardless of age. Drivers in school zones. Primary law.

Louisiana
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Louisiana
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Louisiana
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Kentucky
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Kentucky
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Kentucky
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Kentucky
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Kansas
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Kansas
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Kansas
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Kansas
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Iowa
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Iowa
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Iowa
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with restricted or intermediate license. Primary law.

Iowa
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Indiana
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Indiana
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Indiana
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 21. Primary law.

Indiana
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Illinois
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Illinois
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Illinois
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 19. Primary law.

Illinois
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Idaho
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Idaho
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Idaho
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Idaho
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hawaii
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Hawaii
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Hawaii
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Hawaii
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Guam
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Guam
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Guam
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Guam
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Georgia
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary Law.

Georgia
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary Law.

Georgia
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Georgia
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Florida
Hand-Held Ban?

School and work zones only. Primary law.

Florida
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Florida
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Florida
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

District of Columbia
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

District of Columbia
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

District of Columbia
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner's permit. Primary law.

District of Columbia
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Delaware
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Delaware
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Delaware
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate licence. Primary law.

Delaware
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Connecticut
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

Connecticut
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Connecticut
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Connecticut
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Colorado
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Colorado
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Colorado
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Colorado
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

California
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

California
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

California
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

California
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Arkansas
Hand-Held Ban?

School and work zones only. Primary law.

Arkansas
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Arkansas
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

Arkansas
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Arizona
Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law. (Warning period in effect through 01/01/2021)

Arizona
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Arizona
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

Yes, for instruction and intermediate permit holders under 18. Secondary Law.

Arizona
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Alaska
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Alaska
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Alaska
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

No

Alaska
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Alabama
Hand-Held Ban?

No

Alabama
All Cell Phone Ban? School Bus Drivers

No

Alabama
All Cell Phone Ban? Novice Drivers

16, or 17 with Intermediate License for less than 6 months. Primary law.

Alabama
Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Rising Death Toll From Distracted Driving Prompts Action

The fallout from distracted driving is not pretty. When a person reads a text while driving, his or her eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded. The result of such behavior? Crashes involving a distracted driver killed 3,142 people in 2019, nearly 10% more lives lost than the year before.

As Distracted Driving Deaths Increase, New Research Highlights Resources to Strengthen Laws and Enforcement

GHSA today announced the release of the inaugural Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program (BTSCRP) report, Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications.

As Distracted Driving Deaths Increase, New Research Highlights Resources to Strengthen Laws and Enforcement

GHSA News Release
February 24, 2021

Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications

The inaugural report from GHSA and the Transportation Research Board’s Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program (BTSCRP) reviewed distracted driving laws, enforcement and public education practices across the United States and Canada to develop a library of resources and best practices that states and other stakeholders can use to enact or revise their laws and enhance enforcement and education efforts.

National Traffic Deaths Spike Dramatically Despite Less Miles Driven During Pandemic

Shortly after the pandemic started last March, traffic safety officials sounded a warning when they saw an increase in the rate of traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven despite less traffic on the roads.

National Traffic Deaths Spike Dramatically Despite Less Miles Driven During Pandemic

Story by Ed Blazina
January 14, 2021

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