WhistleOut released a report that took a look at each state to see which laws around cell phone use have been passed and are enforced, and then graded each state’s effort.
The report found that no state had laws fully enforcing all three categories: a handheld ban, a young driver cell phone ban, and a texting ban.
WhistleOut’s Findings From the Report
However, the company did find 22 states that have an “A” grade and are the best at passing laws to protect their drivers from cell phones.
The states that ranked at the top of the list had two out of three and a partial ban for the third.
- The “A” states have a handheld ban and a texting ban.
- Those same states also have a partial young driver cell phone ban that extends to certain young drivers.
Montana is the only state with zero laws or bans in place.
- Therefore, Montana received an “F” grade in the report.
The only other state that comes close to Montana with such limited laws in place is Missouri, which only offers a partial texting and driving ban.
Overall, only two states received an “F” score, and five states received a “D.” The majority of U.S. states received a “C” or above—a passing grade.
- 21 states and D.C. received an “A.”
- Nine states were graded as a “B.”
- 13 states scored a “C” in the report.
Only 21 states plus D.C. have distracted driving laws in place to protect drivers and passengers on the road; all 21 received an “A” grade.
However, as WhistleOut noted, these laws aren’t perfect.
All of the states that scored an “A” only have a partial young driver cell phone ban in place.
The handheld ban extends to 26 states plus D.C., including five states graded “B” in the ranking.
- Those “B” states do not have a young driver ban in place.
- The other four “B” states have a partial young driver ban and a partial handheld ban.
Cell Phone Driving Laws by State
While 48 states and the District of Columbia have texting bans on the books, only 26 states (and D.C.) have handheld bans, and no state has a full young driver cell phone ban in place.
Still, some states are safer than others for driving, so let’s look at how each U.S. state fared in WhistleOut’s grading system.
|State||Rank (letter grade)||Handheld ban||Young driver cell phone ban||Texting ban|
Breaking Down Distracted Driving Laws
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tracks cell phone use laws by state and examines handheld bans, young driver bans, and texting bans along with the enforcement of the laws.
Not every state is equal in how they police distracted driving. Montana is the worst state for laws on the books. It does not have a handheld ban, a young driver ban, or a texting ban.
- Missouri is close behind, but it does have a “partial” texting ban, which ranks it just above Montana.
- Montana and Missouri are the only two states with an “F” grade in the rankings.
Twenty-seven states have laws on the books banning all drivers from using a hand-held device while driving.
- However, five states with a hand-held ban have no young driver cell phone ban in place.
Only one state—Montana—does not ban texting for all drivers. Missouri only bans texting for drivers 21 years old and younger. Every other state, plus D.C., bans texting for all drivers.
In 14 states, young drivers are not prohibited from using cell phones behind the wheel. Meanwhile, all the other states (36 in total), plus D.C., prohibit cell phone use for novice drivers, drivers younger than 18, and learner’s permit holders— otherwise known as a partial ban.