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Effectiveness: 2 Star Cost: $
Use: Medium
Time: Short

This countermeasure involves legislation to curtail distracted driving or driver cell phone use. It has been implemented at both the State and local level throughout the country. Bans on texting are more common than bans on handheld cell phone use. Twenty-one States and the District of Columbia have laws banning handheld cell phones while driving, but at present no State restricts hands-free phone use for all drivers (GHSA, 2020). Forty-eight States and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for all drivers. An additional State, Missouri, bans drivers under 21 from text messaging. As of February 2020, Montana is the only State with no laws on driver cell phone use (GHSA, 2020).

Effectiveness Concerns: The effectiveness of laws banning cell phone use has been examined in several research studies. The results across types of phone use are inconsistent. Specifically, research examining prohibitions on hands-free phone use and texting have yielded mixed results in terms of reductions in phone use while driving and reduced crashes. There is some evidence that banning handheld cell phone use leads to long-term reductions in this behavior; however, it is unknown if drivers are simply switching to hands-free use. At this time, there is insufficient consensus across research findings to determine that this countermeasure is effective.

Further information about the known research, potential effectiveness, costs, use, and time to implement is available in Appendix A4, Section 1.2.