Some 86% of Americans say they support legislation in their state that would prohibit drivers from holding their phones while driving to talk, text, or for other purposes except in emergency situations, according to new survey findings from Nationwide.
Moreover, while less than half of states have hands-free laws on the books, almost two-thirds (64%) of those surveyed believe there are already laws for distracted driving in their state.
The fact that the average American wants legislation to curb distracted driving is a positive step in the right direction. Distracted driving continues to rank among the top dangers on our nation’s roadways, with the risky behavior claiming 3,142 lives in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Data from Nationwide’s SmartRide mobile app reveals that drivers are distracted by their phone up to nine times during a typical 20-mile commute. Moreover, while 66% of drivers say holding a phone while driving is dangerous, 51% admit to doing so in the past 6 months.
One way to reverse the trend is by enacting and enforcing laws. Data shows that hands-free laws work. In fact, a 2018 analysis by the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force showed that states that enact hands-free legislation experienced a 15% decrease in auto crash related fatalities two years after the law went into effect. Six states in that same analysis saw a decrease of more than 20% in fatality rates.
Currently, just 24 states have hands-free laws on the books, despite overwhelming public support. There is active legislation pending in 21 states.