We are all guilty of chatting on the phone as we drive, especially in my line of work, I am doing a lot of work calls as I am getting from point A to point B. My car is my mobile office! It has always been one of my pet peeves seeing drivers texting or just playing on their phones as they drive. I never know where I am safer…driving behind them or just passing them and leaving them behind. I admit, I have checked an email or text at a stop light, and I have adjusted driving directions on my phone when it is on the dashboard mount, but never while driving. With all that said, I am very happy this law is in place.
Here are the quick details of the new law:
For drivers 18 or over:
- Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode
- Are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone
- Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle
- Are not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use
- Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted
- Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs
- Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted
For drivers under the age of 18:
- No use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.
The fines for violating the hands-free law are as follows:
- 1st offense – $100 fine
- 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program
- 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program
10 tips for managing driver distractions
- Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car. Or better yet, put the phone away in a place it cannot be accessed while driving.
- Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate for you.
- X the text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
- Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car.
- Prepare. Start your GPS or review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map and/or directions.
- Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
- Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
- Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.