About Distracted Driving

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any behaviour that diverts a driver's full attention from the task of driving. These distractions come in many forms, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking to passengers
  • Reading a map
  • Using a GPS
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Grooming
  • Listening to music
  • Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Each of these activities can take your attention away from the road long enough to cause you or another person serious harm.

What is Distracted Driving Awareness Month?

The National Safety Council has designated April “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” in order to increase drivers’ awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. 5 Distracted Driving Awareness Month is meant to encourage drivers to reexamine their driving habits, become aware of the ways in which they may be driving unsafely, and pledge to avoid driving distracted in the interest of their own safety as well as the safety of passengers and bystanders.

Distracted Driving Laws in the U.S.

There are 12 U.S. states in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The degree of severity to which these laws are applied varies from state to state. Laws may include a ban on cell phones for bus drivers, a ban on cell phones for novice drivers, a ban on texting for novice drivers, a ban on texting for all drivers, a ban on cell phone use and texting within school zones, and a ban on cell phone use and texting within construction zones, among others.

Traffic violation laws that relate to distracted driving may manifest as primary laws or secondary laws. A primary law means that if pulled over, a driver may be ticketed solely for a specific distracted driving behavior. A secondary law says that the driver may be ticketed for a distracted driving behavior only if they have been pulled over for another violation. 6

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5 "Distracted Driving Awareness Month." NationalSafetyCouncil.org. National Safety Council. https://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DDAM.aspx.

6 "Distracted Driving – State Laws." Distraction.gov. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html.