Distracted driving is a complex and ever increasing risk to public safety on roadways. Drivers’ use of electronic devices significantly diverts human attention away from the driving task. The law enforcement community faces significant challenges as electronic device use has expanded beyond simply texting, and legislation regulating electronic device use while driving is inconsistent in content and implementation. For example, many states currently prohibit texting while driving, but don't address other functions of portable and in-vehicle electronic devices. The effectiveness of current distracted driving legislation, such as primary handheld bans and texting bans, is unknown. This confusion may lead to the continued perception among drivers that it is acceptable to use electronic devices while driving. Therefore, there is a need to systematically examine relevant existing legislation and enforcement practices.
The objectives of this research were to (1) examine the essential components of current state and provincial legislation (e.g., language, penalties, sanctions) used to address distracted driving while using electronic devices; (2) evaluate the benefits and impediments associated with enacting, enforcing, and adjudicating texting and hands-free legislation; and (3) develop model legislation to deter distracted driving while using electronic devices.