The Governors Highway Safety Association has compiled a list of which states restrict or forbid cell phone use for talking or texting while driving. A truck accident attorney always welcomes trucking laws like this. No state bans all cell phone use while driving, but the states differ on their rules and on whom they govern — for example, novice and school bus drivers are often subject to more stringent limitations — so the list is very helpful.
Some states are more hands-off in their cell phone-related legislation, while others take a very hands-on attitude even to hands-free use. Distracted Driving ordinances may also apply, as they do, for example, in New Hampshire and all the counties of Hawaii.
I could generalize about regional attitudes, but you can do it yourself, thanks to our at-a-glance infographic. My cheat sheet to what’s banned where follows, after the map.
All drivers are banned from using hand-held cell phones while driving in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia (D.C.). Note also that more than half of Canada’s provinces ban the use of hand-held cell phones by all drivers.
Novice drivers cannot use even hands-free cell phones while driving in 29 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
The definition of “novice” varies from state to state, but in general it covers drivers younger than 19 years of age and, in some states, drivers of any age using Learner or Intermediate Permits. In Michigan, teens with probationary licenses whose cell phone use has contributed to a crash are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.
School bus drivers may not use even hands-free cell phones while driving in 19 jurisdictions: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Texting while driving is prohibited for all drivers (including school bus drivers and novices) in 30 states, D.C., and Guam. The states are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
There are slight variations in how the laws apply to novices and with regard to texting, so for the full list and details, you can check the GHSA site.
For more on texting, see my post on new trucking laws that prohibit texting while driving.