Nine states flagged for texting laws

An annual survey of highway safety laws gigs nine states for having ineffective distracted driving laws. Six of those receive overall “red” ratings for anemic safety laws.

Red light in trafficA majority of the states gigged as falling “dangerously behind in adoption of key safety laws” were lacking texting and driving laws with full enforcement.

Those “red” states are Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Florida.

“People are needlessly dying on our streets and roads while state elected leaders are needlessly delaying enactment of lifesaving laws,” group President Jacqueline Gillan said.

Looking solely at distracted driving laws, the 13th annual report said nine states need “an optimal all-driver test messaging restriction,” defined as a ban on handheld texting. No credit was given to states with secondary enforcement of the texting law, such as Florida (where numerous bills have been filed to address enforcement).

Those nine states are Arizona, Texas, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.

Four states are without an all-driver texting & driver restriction: Arizona, Missouri, Montana and Texas. Five limit enforcement to secondary status: Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.

The report noted that Mississippi and Oklahoma adopted effective texting & driving laws in 2015.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety study does not factor in laws addressing drivers talking on cell phones, however. It also does not consider laws regarding Internet-related functions of smartphones, such as accessing social media sites.

Some states are in the process of updating texting & driving laws to reflect the many distracting activities made possible by smartphones. Many distracted driving laws were enacted when texting was the primary computer-related use of cell phones.

The group also warned of “growing attacks in state legislatures on existing laws that are proven lifesavers and money savers” — including texting laws.

Other laws taken into consideration in the study’s grading of states include those covering seat belt and motorcycle helmet use, child passenger safety, teen drivers and alcohol impairment.

> Read the Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws study.


  1. Al Cinamon says:

    Maybe those nine states realize that cell phone laws that only ban holding a phone (when the conversation is the real distraction) and anti-texting laws that only force drivers to put the device in their laps (which creates a greater distraction, are PHONY laws.

  2. Robert Thompson says:

    Pennsylvania should also be red flagged even thought it has a no texting and driving law; it is NOT enforced. Living near NY state with the same law, but it’s state law is enforced emphatically.

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