The most popular gadget on the planet, the cell phone, has transformed the way we work, play, and communicate. But for all the good it has done, the nearly ubiquitous device can be deadly when used at the wrong time. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), cell phones are involved in more than one-quarter of the nation’s car accidents. It is not surprising, then, that most U.S. states have enacted some type of legislation prohibiting their use while driving. For those who ignore these new laws, an experienced auto accident attorney may be needed.

Statewide Bans

As dangerous as it undoubtedly is, no U.S. state, territory, or commonwealth has banned cell phone use for all drivers. What they have done, however, is target novice drivers who are at an elevated risk of an accident. At present, 38 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) prohibit new drivers from using cell phones on the road. Twenty U.S. states and D.C. also prohibit school bus drivers from talking on the phone while driving.

Texting and Driving

Countless studies have confirmed that texting while driving is one of the deadliest types of distracted driving. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that driving and texting was up to six times as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Even with the help of a good auto accident attorney, violators can rarely escape prosecution for this offense, since it is a crime in most U.S. states. At last count, 46 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from texting on the road. The remaining four states have some type of legislation (in place or proposed) that seeks to limit the deadly activity.

Hand-Held Phones

Although it’s incredibly dangerous, texting on the road is not the most common form of distracted driving. According to driving safety experts, only about 5 percent of phone-related auto accidents involve texting. Even so, legislators have thus far been reluctant to impose sweeping bans on this everyday activity, meaning that most violators do not need an auto accident attorney. At present, only 14 states, D.C. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands forbid all drivers from using hand-held cell phones on the road.

Certain forms of distracted driving carry serious fines and penalties in most states. That is why all drivers are encouraged to turn their cell phones off and put them away before they hit the open road; otherwise, they may have to contact an auto accident attorney.