DISTRACTED DRIVER LEGISLATION
DISTRACTED DRIVER LEGISLATION
4 of document(s) retrieved

Topic:
TRANSPORTATION SAFETY; LEGISLATION; MOTOR VEHICLES;
Location:
TRAFFIC REGULATIONS;
Scope:
Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report  


April 27, 2001

2001-R-0453

DISTRACTED DRIVER LEGISLATION

By: Jack J. Burriesci, Legislative Fellow

You asked if any states have adopted distracted or careless driving legislation that would prohibit certain actions (i. e. eating, reading, or grooming) while driving.

SUMMARY

All states make reckless driving illegal. We found 14 states that provide for a lesser charge of negligent, careless, or inattentive driving. Three states restrict, but do not prohibit, cellular phone use while driving. At least 12 states, including Connecticut, make it illegal to equip a motor vehicle with a television monitor visible to the driver. And Washington prohibits a driver from embracing another person while driving.

CARELESS DRIVING

All states have laws against reckless driving, but these statutes generally refer to aggressive driving or violations with a criminal intent. We searched state statutes to find any laws that prohibit careless, inattentive, or distracted driving. We found 14 states that specifically identify this type of driving as a separate offense. Table 1 shows the states that have such laws.

Table 1. Careless Driving Statutes

State

Statute

Summary

Alaska

Negligent driving (Alaska Stat. § 28-35-045)

A lesser, but included, offense than reckless driving

Arkansas

Careless and prohibited driving (Ark. Code Ann. § 27-51-104)

Operating a vehicle when the driver is inattentive

Delaware

Careless or inattentive driving (Del. Code Ann. 21 § 4176)

Failure to give full time and attention to the operation of the vehicle

Idaho

Reckless driving (Idaho Code § 49-1401)

Inattentive driving shall be considered a lesser offense when the driver's actions are considered careless or imprudent, but not heedless or wanton

Minnesota

Reckless or careless driving (Minn. Stat. § 169-13)

Any person who operates or halts any vehicle carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others

Mississippi

Careless Driving (Miss. Code Ann. § 63-3-1213)

Careless driving shall be considered a lesser offense than reckless driving

Missouri

Motorist to exercise highest degree of care (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 304-012)

Persons operating a motor vehicle shall drive in a careful and prudent manner

Montana

Careless driving (Mont. Code Ann. § 61-8-302)

Operators shall drive in a careful and prudent manner

Nebraska

Careless driving (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 60-6-212)

Driving carelessly or without due caution as to endanger a person or property

New Mexico

Careless driving (N. M. Stat. Ann. § 66-8-114)

Driver shall give full time and entire attention to the operation of the vehicle

Oregon

Reckless Driving (Or. Rev. Stat. § 811-135)

Driving in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property

South Dakota

Careless driving (S. D. Codified Laws § 32-24-8)

Driving carelessly and without due caution, but not amounting to reckless driving

Vermont

Negligent Operation (Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2-1091)

Operating a vehicle in a negligent manner and failure to exercise ordinary care, as opposed to grossly negligent operation

Wisconsin

Inattentive driving (Wis. Stat. § 346-89)

Driver shall not be engaged or occupied as to interfere with safe driving

CELLULAR TELEPHONES

No state bans wireless phones in automobiles. California, Florida, and Massachusetts impose minor restrictions on cellular telephones in automobiles. In California, rental cars with cellular telephone equipment must include written operating instructions for safe use. In Florida, cellular phone use is permitted in an automobile as long as it provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sound to be heard with the other ear. In Massachusetts, car phones are permitted as long as they do not interfere with vehicle operation, and drivers keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times.

Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania require police to include information about cellular telephones in accident reports.

Since 1995, at least 37 states, including Connecticut, have proposed bills that would impose restrictions on cell phone use while driving. Although no legislation has passed, bills are still pending in several states.

TELEVISION MONITORS

We found at least 12 states, including Connecticut, that make it a violation for a motor vehicle to be equipped with a television monitor visible to the driver. These states are: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New York, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, and Virginia.

EMBRACING WHILE DRIVING

Washington makes it illegal to embrace another while driving and provides that such a violation is prima facie evidence of reckless driving. The statute makes it unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle when such person has in his or her embrace another person which prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle (Wash. Rev. Code § 46-61-665).

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