TRAFFIC SAFETY: A dozen states have advanced tougher distracted driving bills this year

Analysis shows stonger laws enacted, legislation pushed to curb distracted driving

June 02, 2017
 A dozen states have advanced tougher distracted driving bills this year

As auto accidents and fatalities increase on America’s roads, 12 states have taken legislative action this year to further combat distracted driving.

According to an analysis by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), nine states have enacted laws and three states have legislation pending to strengthen enforcement, increase penalties and fines, and focus on education and awareness efforts. PCI said a 14% increase in traffic fatalities over the past two years highlights the importance of strengthening distracted driving laws.

The states enacting laws in 2017 against distracted driving are taking a variety of approaches to the problem. Iowa and Washington have enacted two of the strongest laws against distracted driving in 2017. Iowa’s law moves from secondary to primary enforcement of the state’s texting ban law.

Texas was one of a handful of states without a ban on texting, but the legislature recently sent a bill to Governor Greg Abbot that would establish a statewide texting ban with primary enforcement. The bill would make the offense a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $99 for a first time offense or $200 for repeat offenders.

If the Texas bill is signed, 43 states and the District of Columbia will have primary enforcement of texting bans leaving only Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota with either secondary enforcement or no texting law.

Arkansas, District of Columbia, North Dakota and Washington are cracking down by increasing fines for distracted driving. In Arkansas fines for texting will now be up to $250 for a first-time offender and $500 for a repeat offender. Additionally, fines will double if a driver involved in a crash is texting. Colorado also has legislation on the governor’s desk that increases penalties for texting while driving from $50 to $300.


Source: Insurance Journal; PCI