24 States Now Ban Texting While Driving

By: - April 29, 2010 12:00 am

Michigan on Wednesday (April 28) became the 24th state to ban texting while driving, while two other states, Kentucky and Nebraska, approved similar bans earlier this month.

Governor Jennifer Granholm will sign Michigan’s measure into law on Friday during a safe-driving rally in Detroit, which will be aired on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” The Detroit News reported . Winfrey has become a vocal supporter of state laws addressing distracted driving.

Michigan’s new law takes effect in July.

The spate of anti-texting legislation, combined with a broader patchwork of laws in the states concerning the use of phones while driving, could heighten pressure on Congress to come up with a national standard.

The Obama administration has sought to crack down on distracted driving, calling it an epidemic. But sweeping legislation has not been put on the fast track in Congress. The administration held a two-day summit on distracted driving last fall, and Obama has issued an executive order banning federal workers from texting while driving, if they are on official government business or are using a government vehicle or phone. Separately, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called for a ban on texting while driving for bus and truck drivers who cross state lines, The Associated Press reported .

Among the questions that have arisen in states that have debated distracted driving legislation is whether such offenses should be “primary” or “secondary” — that is, whether police can pull over offenders simply for improperly using a phone while driving, or whether there must be another violation, too. That was a sticking point in Michigan, but legislators ultimately decided to make texting while driving a primary offense.

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