On our daily commute, we’ve all seen drivers ignoring the “hands-free” law, talking and texting on their cell phone while sitting behind the wheel in traffic. In fact, you may be one of them. And, let’s face it, many of us are guilty of texting while driving and some of us will continue to do it, because we think we’re smarter than the cops who are supposed to nab us for breaking the rules and driving while distracted.
Time for a Reality Check About Getting a Cell Phone Ticket
In reality, which is where traffic tickets for cell phone violations are handed out, cops, for the most part, have no trouble knowing when a distracted driver is texting or calling their girlfriend while driving.
And, sadly, despite state laws, a large number of drivers insist on using their cell phones, regardless of the risk of damages, serious injuries or death to themselves or other motorists – or the effect a car accident could have on their freedom, driving privileges, and auto insurance rates.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving, including cell phone use, claimed more than 3,000 lives in traffic accidents in 2020. The agency’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign reminds drivers of the consequences of driving and texting, as well as the fact that 48 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, have made it illegal to text and operate a motor vehicle.
More dismal information released from the NHTSA in 2022 includes:
- 95% of study respondents consider reading or texting while driving very or extremely dangerous
- 11 teenagers die everyday due to crashes involving texting and driving
- In 2019, 39% of high school students said they texted while driving in the last 30 days
- In 2021, 16.2% of us were still driving and texting
- Texting while driving is as bad as drinking 4 beers
- 6 million crashes happen per year due to cell phone use while driving
- Texting while driving is 6 times deadlier than driving under the influence of alcohol
How Much is a Texting and Driving Ticket?
The median base fine for a texting while driving conviction in the U.S. is $100. Your fine depends on the state you get caught in, as well as if this is your first offense or you are working on racking up multiple cell phone tickets. Obviously, your fines and penalties will go up if there are damages related to any car accidents or crashes resulting from your inattention to the road. Every state has different fines and points assigned to your driver’s license. In states that use a point system, accumulate enough points and your license is suspended. In some states, attending traffic school could be enough for a primary offense. Some states allow talking on the phone if you are using a hands-free device.
In Illinois, for example, a texting while operating a motor vehicle conviction will get you 20 pints for a first offense. You’re only allowed 15 before your license gets taken away. If you are over the age of 21 and you accumulate 15-44 points in a 24-month period, you’ll lose your license for 2 months for a first suspension. Subsequent offenses obviously raise the stakes. Oh and there is a base fine of $75.
In California, surprisingly, the California Vehicle Code states a texting while driving conviction will cost you a meager $20. In Texas, you’ll be paying $99 for a first-time conviction. Oregon is the biggest hit to your checkbook with a fine of $1,000. Utah follows closely with a $750 fine.
You’re Not Fooling Anyone
For those of you who might think you won’t be caught, you may want to reconsider. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean you’re out-smarting the cops. The fact is, cops use discretion when deciding to chase after a guy with a cell phone glued to his ear and give him a ticket.
Here are a few reasons why you’re not fooling the cops.
Holding Your Phone on the Steering Wheel Trick
Although a lot of motorists believe it’s a good way to conceal their text usage from a passing cop, some blatantly refuse to hide their cell phone. But a cop can easily drop behind you and after a mile or two confirm what he suspects – you’re on your phone – texting.
Your Head is Constantly Bobbing Up and Down or to the Side
Unless you’re a bobble head doll, this is a dead giveaway. Constantly glancing down to your lap, steering wheel or off to the side will automatically draw an officer’s attention. Each time you sneak a peek at the screen, you’re giving yourself away.
The Glow From Your Screen at Night Screams “I’m Texting”
Seriously, if you insist on using your phone to text message, check your Facebook page or send an email at night, there’s no way you can hide the fact you’re on your cell phone and guilty of distracted driving. Regardless of how bright your screen is, a cop driving anywhere around you will notice what you’re doing and probably give you some unwanted paperwork to sign.
Lane Changes and Sudden Speeding Up and Slowing Down
Driver inattention, especially a visual distraction such as a mobile device, causes inattention to road rules such as the speed limit. If you’re behind the wheel and intent on receiving an instant message, you may be speeding up or slowing down or worse, failing to maintain your lane. This type of driver distraction is more prevalent with handheld cellphones than hands free wireless devices. If law enforcement notices this type of driver behavior, you may be looking at a texting violation.
Motorcycle Cops Have a Clear View and the Advantage
There’s a reason why you’re more likely to get pulled over by a motorcycle cop and given a traffic ticket. They have the advantage of being able to get in close and peer through the window by riding alongside your car. If your cell phone is anywhere in sight, they have the prerogative to cite you.
A Police Officer Could be Watching You From Above – or Beside You – or Invisibly
In some states, a variety of methods are being considered, including setting up spotters on overpasses to look for people texting and operating a motor vehicle. Some other ingenious ideas law enforcement are using include posing an officer as a trucker – easily able to look down into your vehicle on the road. New York’s ex-gov Andrew Cuomo put aside $1 million to modify Chevy Tahoes to sit higher on the road, enabling officers to peer into neighboring motor vehicles (it actually worked: NY troopers handed out 5,553 distracted driving tickets in a 2-month period, up from 924 during the same time period the year before).
And a Virginia company is developing a radar gun-like tool that can help law enforcement identify the radio frequencies used by someone using a cell phone. The device can even tell the difference between texting and calling.
Don’t Push Your Luck When it Comes to Distracted Driving
The majority of the states are taking a hard look at this offense, and car insurance companies aren’t far behind. Get a violation for distracted driving and they may take a closer look at your driving habits and the increased risk of you being involved in a serious accident with injuries and damages. This information could cause a rate increase.
Remember – your life isn’t the only one at risk when you text message and drive. Besides the risk of a bad crash, if your children are in the car, you are teaching them a deadly habit.
Get an Online Quote for Affordable Car Insurance Today
If you need reliable, affordable car insurance, call Freeway Insurance at (800) 777-5620. Freeway provides quality car insurance coverage for all drivers – no matter the driving record. Call today or request a free quote online.