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States Haven't Banned Texting While Driving…Yet

Joshua Monen

According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, drivers typically take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds when texting. And at 55 miles per hour, 4.6 seconds is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

texting while driving banDue to this alarming trend, all but three states have passed laws banning texting while driving (in some states the law applies to all drivers, while in others it's only aimed at younger drivers). Washington was the first state to pass such a law in 2007. Since then 47 states plus Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have laws banning texting while driving.

Let's look at the three states where it's still legal to text and drive.

1. Arizona

Currently the only legal restrictions on texting while driving in Arizona apply to bus drivers. And earlier this year, the Arizona Senate voted against adding an amendment to an existing House bill that would have led to a potential texting ban for all drivers. But the amendment failed on a 16-12 vote which took place on April 2nd.

Senate President Andy Biggs argued against the amendment. According to reports from the Associated Press, the senator argued that state law already makes reckless driving illegal, therefore a texting ban isn't required.

However, Senator Steve Farley said deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers who were texting make a compelling argument for the ban.

Text-message driving bans have repeatedly failed in the Arizona Legislature in recent years.

2. Montana

While Montana cities Bozeman and Helena banned the use of handheld cellphones and texting in December 2011 and January 2012, respectively, there is still no statewide ban on texting while driving.

Sen. Christine Kaufmann attempted to change that earlier this year with Senate Bill 390. Kaufmann told the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee in March that the bill would allow drivers to talk on their phones only through a hands-free device. Under Kaufmann's measure, minors would be prohibited from talking on their cellphones while driving, and no driver would be allowed to text while driving.

However, Senate Bill 390 failed to get committee action and died in the standing committee.

3. South Carolina

There have been several attempts in South Carolina's General Assembly to pass a statewide texting ban. All have failed, including the most recent attempt by State Rep. Wendell Gilliard. Gilliard has filed bills for two years in a row that would ban texting while driving and talking on a cellphone while driving. According to Gilliard, the first bill died in a legislative committee. The most recent bill is expected to come up for discussion in 2014.

Although the state hasn't enacted a texting ban, several local municipalities have taken matters into their own hands by passing citywide bans on texting while driving. Nearly a dozen municipalities outlaw texting while driving, including Beaufort, Columbia, Sumter, Clemson, Camden, West Union and Walhalla.

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