As a driver, it's important to understand the laws pertaining to cellphone use while driving. It's even more important to know that in most cases, the laws don't go far enough. If you want to reduce your risk of crashing, you should never text and drive, even if it is legal in your area.
1. Distracted Driving Is Extremely Dangerous
If you wouldn't drive while you are drunk, you should not text and drive-in fact, texting while driving is six times more likely to lead to an accident than driving while under the influence of alcohol. There are 1.6 million crashes per year caused by using a cell phone, and over 3,000 people die per year from these types of accidents.
To be safe on the road, you should turn your phone off or rely completely on hands-free devices. It's important to minimize other distractions, such as GPS devices, maps, eating and even talking to other passengers, as well.
2. Driving While Texting Is Illegal in Most States
In addition to being dangerous, texting while driving is illegal in 47 states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas as of September 2017.
3. Laws Vary Based on Your Age and Where You're Driving
In many cases, state laws vary based on your age. For example, in Missouri, only drivers under 21 are banned from texting and driving. In Oklahoma, drivers with their learner's permit or an intermediate license aren't allowed to use handheld cell phones at all.
To illustrate another example, in Arkansas, you can't use a handheld phone while driving if you are between 18 and 20, and if you're under 18, you can't use any sort of cell phone even if it's hands-free.
In many states, including Texas, you can't legally use a handheld phone while in a school zone. If you need to call your child to let them know you're at the school, you should use a hands-free phone in these situations.
Similarly, in Arkansas, you are not allowed to use handheld cell phones in school zones or construction zones. In many cases, fines are doubled for offenses in construction zones, so that's also important to keep in mind.
4. A Texting and Driving Ticket Can Drive Up Your Insurance Rates
If you are stopped and you get a ticket for texting and driving, it can result in higher insurance premiums and civil or criminal penalties. While some states ban insurers from raising rates for these types of accidents, the majority of states allow insurance companies to increase your rates for driving violations including texting and driving.
5. Texting and Driving Could Add Points to Your License
States like Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas all assign points to drivers. As a result, if you get a ticket for texting and driving, that may lead to points on your license, which can make it harder to get insurance coverage.
6. There Are Apps That Can Help Stop Texting and Driving
If you're the parent of a young driver, you may want to download an app to their phone to prevent them from texting and driving. Apps such as Cellcontrol and Drive Safe Mode prevent texting and driving, and they send you an email if the app gets disabled.
If the temptation to check your phone is strong, apps like this can also help you break the habit of texting and driving.
At Boone Ritter Insurance, we work with clients in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Kansas. We hope that your time on the road is as safe as possible. If you need new coverage, contact us for a quote today.