Nine states still lack comprehensive laws banning texting while behind the wheel.
Despite statistics confirming the dangers of distracted driving due to texting, not all U.S. states have passed laws banning the practice. While 41 states have outlawed it, another six states have addressed the issue in a limited way with legislation. Three states still have no such law requiring that drivers refrain from texting while behind the wheel.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the six states that have passed laws limiting texting focus on new drivers. Arizona, Montana and South Carolina have no laws prohibiting drivers from texting while operating their vehicles. However, individual municipalities in Montana and South Carolina have created local-level bans for their respective jurisdictions, as previously reported.
The following states limit texting while driving, but have not enacted an outright ban:
South Dakota: Text bans have been put into effect for drivers with a learner’s permit and for intermediate license holders.
New Mexico: Like South Dakota, texting bans are in place for drivers with a learner’s permit and for intermediate license holders.
Texas: Currently, the law prohibits drivers from texting if they are younger than 18 years old or are bus drivers carrying minor passengers. In September, the law will prohibit texting while driving in school crossing zones and on public school property during times when reduced speed limits apply.
Oklahoma: The texting ban spans to drivers with a learner’s permit, intermediate license holders, bus drivers and public transit drivers.
Missouri: All drivers 21 and younger are prohibited from texting while driving.
Mississippi: Similar to Oklahoma, Mississippi passed laws prohibiting drivers with a learner’s permit, intermediate license holders and school bus drivers from texting while operating a vehicle.
States without full or partial texting while driving bans have also considered the issue legislatively.
In April, the Arizona State Senate decided against changing existing laws to ban texting while driving. According to news reports, Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, claimed the amendment was unnecessary since “reckless driving” is already prohibited under Arizona law.
The Montana Senate took a similar stance in 2011 when it rejected a potential ban on texting while driving. Opponents of the bill said it would be unenforceable and would create more issues for law enforcement, according to local media.
Although South Carolina has no current bans across the board regarding texting and driving, state lawmakers are trying to push legislation ahead to make it illegal to text and drive.