5 Reasons You Need To Avoid Texting And Driving

Sending a text while driving may seem like a harmless act, but you could be putting yours and other people’s lives at risk. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to run your car off the road, back-end another car, hit a pedestrian and more. It is your legal responsibility to drive safely and responsibly. Texting distracts you visually and cognitively while you are behind the wheel and delays your ability to react to unexpected events on the road. Learn more on texting and driving.

What Type of Distraction Is Texting and Driving?

Texting while driving is known as a visual distraction, defined as anything that keeps your eyes off the road and includes changing the radio station, consulting your GPS, putting makeup on and more.

Visual distractions are hazardous because they keep a driver from assessing their surroundings, therefore slowing down their reaction time. For example, reaching for something in the back seat or reading a text message will distract you from seeing the car in front of you brake suddenly.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cell phone use while driving accounts for a high number of deaths and injuries in the United States. In 2020, almost 3,200 people were killed in collisions involving distracted drivers. If you are driving 55 miles per hour, a text would take your eyes off the road for the length of a football field.

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What Are the Risks of Texting and Driving?

The biggest risks when texting and driving are injuring yourself or others, but there are other risks as well. For example, you are likely breaking the law. Texting while driving is illegal in every state, so you risk a traffic ticket and a fine. If you get a ticket, your insurer may find out and increase your rates.

Additionally, even if you don’t injure someone, you could dent and damage your car because of an accident you caused by texting and driving.

How Does Texting and Driving Affect Others?

Distracted drivers can rear-end other drivers because they weren’t paying attention. They can run red lights and roll through stop signs. They can speed through school limit zones and stray out of their lane. They can hit bicyclists or pedestrians or poles.

When you are distracted while driving, you are no longer in control of your car. By texting and driving, you can be at fault for accidents that kill others, destroy families and be financially devastated.

Victims of texting and driving collisions could suffer permanent injuries like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, whiplash, broken bones, organ damage and more. If someone is hurt in a car accident, they will need time to heal. This could equate to loss of income and earning capacity, mounting medical bills, high out-of-pocket costs and property damage. You may have to pay out of pocket for costs that exceed your car insurance policy’s limits.

Texting and driving can lead to injuring yourself and/or others, causing property damage and getting a ticket.

Which Age Group Texts and Drives the Most? 

Younger drivers make up the demographic that texts while driving the most. In a recent study, they indicated that checking a text or email made no difference in their driving, which is not true.

It should therefore not be a surprise that young drivers (18 to 20) have the highest incidence of car crashes than other age groups. This age group tends to have nearly twice as many collisions than the next highest bracket (21 to 24).

What Happens if You’re Pulled Over When Texting While Driving?

You will be ticketed for texting and driving in all but two states. In Texas, for example, texting and driving is a misdemeanor, which means a conviction that results in a criminal record and a fine of $25 to $99. In Utah, this misdemeanor could result in three months in jail and a $750 fine. In Arkansas, a first offense costs $250 and $500 for any subsequent offenses. In many states, you face having your license suspended, fines, increased insurance premiums and even jail time.

Texting and Driving Ticket Costs: State-by-State Guide

Even though there is no federal law banning texting and driving, 48 states have passed laws against it. Montana and Missouri are the only states that presently allow texting and driving. In Nebraska, texting and driving is a secondary offense, so it can only be cited in addition to another moving violation. The penalties for breaking one of these laws can range from fines to a license suspension:

State

Handheld Ban

Texting Ban

Cellphone Ban

License Points

Ticket costs (First Offense)

Alabama

16 and under

Yes

No

2

$25

Alaska

No

Yes

No

 

Up to $10,000 

Arkansas

For 18 – 20 years old and in school and work zones (secondary)

Yes

No

 

$250

Arizona

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$75 and $149

California

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$162

Colorado

No

Yes

No

4

$300

Connecticut

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$200

District of Columbia

Yes

Yes

Yes

   

Delaware

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100

Florida

Yes

Yes

No

3

$30

Georgia

Yes

Yes

Yes

1

$50

Hawaii

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$250 

Idaho

No

Yes

Yes

 

$75

Illinois

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$75

Indiana

No

Yes

Yes

4

$35.50

Iowa

No

Yes

No

 

$100

Kansas

No

Yes

No

 

$60

Kentucky

No

Yes

No

3

$25

Louisiana

Learner or intermediate license in school zones only

Yes

No

 

$175

Maine

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$250 

Maryland

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 for third offense

$83 

Massachusetts

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100

Michigan

No

Yes

No

 

$100

Minnesota

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$120

Mississippi

No

Yes

No

 

$100

Missouri

No

No

No

2

$85

Montana

No

No

No

   

Nebraska

No

Yes

No

3

$200 

New Hampshire

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100 

New Jersey

Yes

Yes

Yes

3 for third offense

$200

New Mexico

No

Yes

No

 

$25

New York

Yes

Yes

Yes

4

$50-$200

Nevada

Yes

Yes

Yes

4 for second offense

$50

North Carolina

No

Yes

No

 

$100 

North Dakota

No

Yes

No

 

$100

Ohio

No

Yes

No

 

$150

Oklahoma

Learner or intermediate license only

Yes

No

 

$100

Oregon

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Starts at a $1,000

Pennsylvania

No

Yes

No

 

$50

Rhode Island

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100

South Carolina

No

Yes

No

 

$25

South Dakota

No

Yes

No

 

$122.50

Tennessee

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$50

Texas

Only in school zones

Yes

Yes (but only in school zones)

 

$25-$99 

Utah

No

Yes

No

 

$100

Vermont

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100-$200

Virginia

In highway work zones only

Yes

Yes

 

$125 

Washington

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$136

West Virginia

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

$100

Wisconsin

No

Yes

No

 

$20

Wyoming

No

Yes

No

 

$75-$90

Younger drivers make up the demographic that texts while driving the most.

Does Distracted Driving Increase Insurance Rates?

Your insurance premiums will increase if you get a ticket for texting and driving. Even if you have a clean driving record otherwise, you could see a change in your rates when it’s time to renew your policy if you get a ticket for texting and driving.

Most insurers look at the past three to four years of your driving history, so any violations beyond that will likely be dropped. Once you have a clean history, your rates will likely drop.

Will a Texting and Driving Ticket Go On My Record?

Getting cited for distracted driving will add points to your driving record in most states, and you will likely see an increase in your insurance rates come renewal. Most first offenses will result in a fine. However, subsequent offenses will be more costly and may include jail time. Additionally, receiving too many points for traffic violations could result in a suspended license. Where you live plays a big part in what consequences you’ll face, as some states view texting as a misdemeanor, while a couple do not ban it altogether.

Are There Ways To Prevent Texting and Driving?

Since texting takes your eyes and attention off the road, it is one of the worst kinds of distracted driving. All it takes is five seconds to change people’s lives forever. Reaching for your phone, reading messages, and texting a reply can all increase your chances of getting in a car accident significantly. Here are some tips to prevent texting and driving:

  • Place your phone out of your reach, like in your purse or in the console.
  • Put the phone on silent mode.
  • Let your family and friends know that you will be unavailable when you are driving.
  • If you need to respond, pull over in a safe area to do so.
  • If you are a passenger, ask the driver to stop texting or talking on their phone.
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Your insurance premiums will increase if you get a ticket for texting and driving.

FAQs

Are there car insurance discounts for non-distracted drivers?

Many insurers will reward policyholders with a long record of safe driving. If you have not received any citations for distracted driving, you could call your insurer to see if they offer good driver discounts.

What are common examples of distracted driving?

Common examples include talking on a cell phone, sending a text message, eating and drinking, fiddling with your radio, using a GPS system, putting on makeup, daydreaming and more. Anything that keeps your eyes and mind off the road can lead to distracted driving.

Can you go to jail if you’re caught texting while driving?

Even if you're in a state that doesn’t have laws against texting, texting while driving can have severe consequences that will take you to jail, especially if you hurt or kill someone. Some states, like California, have laws that specify jail time if you are convicted of reckless or distracted driving.

Key Takeaways

  • Texting and driving is illegal in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The use of handheld phones while driving is illegal as a primary offense in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The penalties for talking and texting while driving varies from state to state.

Are You Paying Higher Insurance Rates Because of a Texting Ticket?

Getting a traffic ticket will increase your insurance premium but you can shop around with SmartFinancial’s free online tools to find a car insurance policy that is perfect for your budget. Just enter your zip code below and answer a few questions or call 855.214.2291 to get free competitively priced car insurance quotes in your area.

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