Distracted Driving

CSG Midwest
As of September, Illinois and Minnesota were among the 15 U.S. states that banned all drivers from using handheld devices, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. These are all primary enforcement laws, which means that police can stop drivers for violating the ban; no other infraction needs to have occurred. (With secondary offenses, officers must have first stopped the driver for another violation.)

A March 18 fatal accident involving a self-driving Volvo SUV operated by Uber in Arizona continued to produce reactions and ramifications across the autonomous vehicle policy community this week. Here are some of the latest updates on what policymakers are doing in the wake of the crash, what the crash tells us about autonomous vehicle technology and what it means for Uber and others.  

CSG Midwest
In 2016, drivers distracted by their phones or other devices caused 1,230 crashes on Iowa roads, nearly double the number from a decade ago, state statistics show. This year, the state’s lawmakers passed two bills to crack down on these motorists.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Nine years later, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. Driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions. Despite the risks, many drivers admit to distracted driving and the problem is particularly pervasive for young drivers.

CSG Midwest logo
As of mid-April, 12 U.S. states had general statutory bans on drivers’ use of handheld cellphones, including Illinois in the Midwest, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In each of these 12 states, this traffic violation is a primary offense: Law enforcement can stop a driver because of the cellphone use and issue a citation.
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South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard in March signed legislation to make his state the 43rd one to ban texting while driving. The new law, which will take effect July 1, prohibits drivers from using any handheld wireless device to write, send or read text messages or emails while the vehicle is in motion.

Distracted driving, which includes texting while driving, is a significant public safety concern for state leaders and law enforcement. Although 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans that prohibit texting while driving, driver distraction is a leading factor in nearly one-fifth of all fatal crashes.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Seven years later, 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions.

Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced this week they have agreed in principle on how to proceed with the next federal surface transportation authorization bill, the successor to 2012’s MAP-21. I also have the usual roundup of links on the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we have a new Capitol Research brief just out looking at “Enforcement of Texting While Driving Bans.” It examines the state of anti-texting statutes and recent legislative efforts around the country, as well as the efforts of law enforcement to assess strategies for catching texters in the act. But here’s a roundup of some additional related resources from around the web.

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