New Year, New Laws Against Distracted Driving


The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America has recently announced that the New Year will mark the implementation of new state laws that will be tougher on distracted motorists. Oregon, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Kansas are among the states that will be tougher on distracted driving come 2010.

While all four states will implement new and stronger forms of legislation regarding calling or texting while driving on Jan. 1, 2010, each state still differs on the degree of restriction strictness. Among the four, Oregon is said to have the strictest regulations. Starting January 1st, young drivers below 18 years of age will not be allowed to use any type of mobile phone while driving. The use of any hand held devices will be banned for all motorists. In Illinois, new state regulations will ban the use of hand held devices when driving near construction sites and school zones. For Kansas drivers, those who only have intermediate licenses and learner’s permits will not be allowed to text and use mobile phones while driving. Meanwhile, New Hampshire will impose an all out ban on sending or reading SMS messages for all motorists.

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Personal Lines senior director, Robert Passmore, said that the four states will now be a part of the increasing number of states and districts that are taking serious action on strengthening restrictions on the use of mobile phones and sending SMS messages while driving. Passmore adds that for 2009, a total of 17 states already started implementation of strict texting and mobile phone usage laws.

According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, back in 2008 roughly 6,000 people died from collisions and car crashes caused by distracted driving. That same year, approximately half a million people were injured. Research and advanced studies also reveal that drivers who are most prone to being inattentive or distracted while behind the wheel are young drivers with the least driving experience, men and women less than 20 years of age.

In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that there are already statewide restrictions when talking on a hand-held mobile phone while driving on seven states (New Jersey, Oregon, California, Washington, New York, Utah, and Connecticut). Meanwhile, the use of mobile phones, both to call and to send/read text messages, by new drivers is not allowed in twenty-one states. Text messaging while driving is also banned in the District of Columbia and nineteen states. Also, new drivers are not allowed to text in nine states.