Distracted driving rules drive you to distraction

Road trips are a staple of summer travel. You load up the car, cram in the kids and put the pedal to the metal. Well, it’s not that simple any more. The rules with which you have to contend vary from state to state, especially when it comes to distracted driving (also “known as get off your cell phone while driving”). Can you go hands free? Should you just shut up and drive? It depends on the state.

We’ve become more reliant on our cell phones, and not just for talking. Travel apps abound, and iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Androids laden with them help us communicate with each other to get local color, find hotels and cheap gas and even get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. All these tools that make travel easier could make driving safely harder, as you desperately need to monitor the Twitter public timeline while blowing down the highway at an absurd rate of speed.

Well, it turns out that keeping track of distracted driving rules from state to state, particularly if you’re on a long road trip, can lead you into distracted driving. Simply put: trying to obey the law can cause you to break it.Distracted driving laws, according to MSNBC, are far from uniform:

So far, 30 states – and some local jurisdictions, including Chicago and Phoenix – now have laws that address using cell phones or sending text messages while driving. Fines range from $20 to $150 for the first offense.

Unfortunately, the laws aren’t uniform. One state may ban handheld phone use in cars while another may allow it. Texting while driving is banned in dozens of states, but will result in a ticket in others only if you get into an accident.

Just keeping track of distracted driving laws can distract the heck out of you. So, you may want to print them out, MSNBC suggests, particularly since these laws aren’t always posted at state borders. A better idea, I think, is to e-mail or text them to yourself … which only works in states where you can use your cell phone while driving. D’oh!

Even better? Bring a copilot.

[photo by Lord Jim via Flickr]