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A-1 An initial scan of existing legislation was conducted to determine the key components of that legislation. In January and February 2019, information was collected for all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the 10 Canadian provinces. The initial scan was followed by a cluster analysis of states and provinces with similar structured legislation in preliminary groupings. This analysis was designed to separate the states and provinces into groups that are similar with respect to existing legislation and prevalence of electronic device use while driving, so that one or more states/provinces selected from each cluster would adequately represent both the variation in laws and the variation in driver behavior. The first step in this cluster analysis was to rank the laws by strength. This appendix serves as a guide for scoring each of the components of the laws reviewed in the initial scan. A.1 Main Components Considered Primary components of a distracted driving law considered for ranking the strength of the law are outlined in the following. Each table presents the component of the law, associated point val- ues, and justification for the point assignment. Higher points indicate either that the component is stricter or more restrictive or that the law is easier to enforce. A.1.1 Violation Type There are two main types of traffic violations: primary and secondary. A primary violation means a driver can be cited by a law enforcement officer whenever the offense is observed. A secondary violation is one where the driver can receive a citation for the violation only after the law enforcement officer observes a primary offense. See Table A-1. A P P E N D I X A Protocol for Ranking the Strength of Distracted Driving Laws Violation Type Points Assigned Justification No law 0 Primary violations are well-received by law enforcement. It is a common belief that if the law is addressing an important traffic safety issue, the violation would be considered a primary offense. Secondary 1 Primary 2 Table A-1. Violation types. A.1.2 Behaviors Covered There are three behaviors most commonly addressed by distracted driving laws: â¢ Texting on the electronic device; â¢ Manipulating or dialing on the electronic device; and â¢ Handheld electronic device use.
A-2 Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications Laws with texting restrictions prohibit drivers from using phones to send text messages. Manipulating or dialing is an expansion of texting. Under this type of law, drivers are restricted from dialing or using their fingers to engage in some activity on the phone (texting, browsing, sending emails, etc.), and this categorization covers all of the behaviors of a texting law as well as the manipulating or dialing restrictions. Handheld is the most inclusive behavior category and prohibits the driver from holding a phone to text, browse the internet, talk on the phone, and so forth. See Table A-2. Some jurisdictions also prohibit the driver from using the electronic device to read or speak. Although this type of law is more restrictive, these behaviors, similar to texting, are difficult to prove and, therefore, to enforce. It is important to note that, while research indicates that texting or manipulating an electronic device is likely more dangerous, it is also more challenging for law enforcement to enforce. A.1.3 Type of Drivers Covered Distracted driving laws can vary with respect to who is covered (meaning the population of drivers; see Table A-3). Most of the reviewed laws covered all drivers. However, one or two juris- dictions did not have a law limiting electronic device use for all drivers. Instead, the law addressed specific populations of drivers, such as commercial, school bus, or teenaged/GDL drivers. Also, several jurisdictions with laws that applied to all drivers had additional laws that were more stringent for specific populations. These laws were classified as more stringent because they were more restrictive or they had a more meaningful or punitive penalty. For example, the law may have prohibited texting for all drivers, but GDL drivers were not allowed to use any electronic device at all (which is roughly equivalent to a handheld ban). Behavior Points Assigned Justification No behavior 0 Law does not enforce any of the behaviors, or there is no law. Texting 1 Limits the enforcement to a two-way communication device, meaning that someone could be manipulating a portable game, but since they are not texting, they cannot be cited even though the behavior and level of distraction are similar. Manipulating/dialing 2 Adding limitations beyond texting (which would include dialing or manipulating the electronic device) simplifies enforcement and expands the types of devices covered to all electronic devices. Handheld 3 More severe and most inclusive and, therefore, easier to enforce. Reading or speaking 1 extra point More restrictive but difficult to enforce. Note that many texting laws do include a reading restriction. Table A-2. Behaviors covered. All drivers and there are one or more laws that are more stringent for specific populations (e.g., GDL, CDL, new drivers, school bus drivers) 1 extra point More restrictive on behaviors covered under the law or increased fines/penalties for special populations, although may be difficult to enforce. Drivers Covered Points Assigned Justification Law does not address any driver populations 0 Law only addresses specific populations 1 Less severe and difficult to enforce. All drivers 2 Table A-3. Drivers covered.
Protocol for Ranking the Strength of Distracted Driving Laws A-3 A.1.4 When the Law Is Enforceable (Definition of Driving) The wording of the law varied with respect to whether the vehicle needed to be in motion in order for use of the electronic device to be considered a violation. Sometimes this is difficult to interpret due to the wording used. Some laws indicated that a driver was in violation only if the vehicle was in motion. If nothing else was specified, these were treated as âin motionâ laws only. Another situation that was treated as an âin motionâ law only was when the language of the law indicated that electronic device use was permitted when the vehicle was stopped at a traffic sig- nal, whereas other laws specified that if the vehicle was being operated on the roadway, either in motion or when stopped at a traffic signal, use of an electronic device was a violation of the law. These were categorized as âat all timesâ laws. See Table A-4. Assistant Chief Thomas Didone of the Montgomery County Police Department indicated that, in Maryland, there are additional nuances in how the laws are enforced. For example, texting is never allowed (at all times in the law), but handheld use of a phone (e.g., to browse the Internet) is allowed at a traffic light or stop sign. It is important to note that these slight differences are not easy to recognize from reading the law but were identified in conversations with law enforce- ment in the selected jurisdictions. A.1.5 Penalty Range Some jurisdictions assign points to the driverâs license for certain moving violations (see Table A-5), and many jurisdictions suspend or revoke the driverâs license when a certain number of points are reached. The number of points assigned varies by jurisdiction, and having more points assigned to the violation is associated with an increased severity of punishment. Addi- tionally, aspects of a motoristâs driving record (including points accrued) may be reported to insurance companies, which may use this information in determining what rate to charge the motorist and whether to renew or cancel an insurance policy. It is important to note that some laws identified certain behaviors as warranting more points. For example, Assistant Chief Didone pointed out that in Maryland, a point is assigned to a texting violation, but a handheld violation is not associated with any points. 1â2 points 1 More points are associated with a stronger penalty and may increase compliance. 3â4 points 2 5 or more points 3 Penalty Range (for First Offense) Points Assigned Justification Warning/0 points 0 Table A-5. Penalty ranges. When the Law Is Enforceable Points Assigned Justification Law is not enforced in any situation 0 Law is not clearly enforceable in any situation, or there is no law. Only when vehicle is in motion 1 Allows for device use during stops in traffic; higher potential for use while driving. At all times (stationary or in motion)* 2 Enforceable at all times. *Some of the laws allow motorists to use electronic devices if the vehicle is pulled off the roadway. (This does not include being stopped at a stoplight.) Table A-4. When the law is enforceable.
A-4 Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications A.1.6 Incremental Penalty An incremental penalty structure (see Table A-6) allows for an increase in the number of points assigned for violating the law on a second or subsequent offense. Incremental Penalty Points Assigned Justification No 0 Incremental penalty may increase compliance. Yes 1 Table A-6. Incremental penalties. A.1.7 Fine Range Most jurisdictions had a fine associated with a violation of their distracted driving law, but the amount of the fine varied considerably (see Table A-7). In other highway safety issues, such as seat-belt or speeding enforcement, a higher fine has been associated with a stronger law and resulted in higher rates of compliance (Nichols et al. 2014). However, in many jurisdictions, the fine may be lower due to constituentsâ ability to afford a higher fine. It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that the jurisdiction does not view distracted driving as an impor- tant safety issue. In addition, according to Assistant Chief Didone, if a fine is too high, there is a point at which officers will not enforce it because the fine is thought to be unreasonable. Other research has indicated that there is a point of diminishing returns (Nichols et al. 2014). It is for these reasons that the authors examined the effect of geography and socioeconomic influences when reviewing this component of the law. It is also important to note that some jurisdictions allow for reduction or dismissal of the fine if the offending motorist is able to provide proof of purchase of a hands-free device to prevent future citations. Fine Range (for First Offense) Points Assigned Justification No fine 0 Higher range of fine may increase compliance. Low $1â$25 1 $26â$75 Medium $76â$100 2 $101â$150 High* $151â$200 3 $201 or more *Regarding jurisdictions with higher fines (for example, $1,000 and over), an extra point was awarded to help differentiate these from other jurisdictions where the maximum fine was $300 or less. Table A-7. Fine ranges. A.1.8 Incremental Fine An incremental fine (see Table A-8) means that the fine associated with the violation increases with second or subsequent offenses. Table A-8. Incremental fines. Incremental Fine Points Assigned Justification No 0 Incremental fine may increase compliance. Yes 1
Protocol for Ranking the Strength of Distracted Driving Laws A-5 A.2 Other Components Considered The components of the law listed in the following were examined during the initial review but, due to ambiguity, proved to be more difficult to assign point values to when ranking. These components were considered after the jurisdictions have been ranked and initial cluster analysis is conducted. â¢ Exemptions to the Law. Most jurisdictions have exemptions to their laws; for example, drivers are allowed to use cell phones to call emergency services. The authors decided that a count of all the exemptions allowed by each jurisdiction subtracted from the ranking score did not lend itself to the analysis. However, a review of the types of exemptions and their effects on enforcement was conducted. For example, allowing the electronic device to be used for navi- gation could make it challenging to cite a person for texting because drivers could claim they were entering a travel destination. â¢ Type of Roadways Where the Law Is in Effect. At the outset, the researchers thought it was possible that some jurisdictions might have electronic device laws pertaining only to specific sections of roadways; for example, school zones or construction zones. The authors did not find this to be the case. However, the authors did find that some jurisdictions had more stringent laws for these sections of road (for example, the fine associated with the citation was doubled in a school zone). Similar to the Types of Drivers Covered section, the authors considered providing additional points for when a jurisdiction has a stricter law for different roadway sections. â¢ Simplicity/Ambiguity of the Language in the Law. While this is important for law enforce- ment interpretation and enforcement, it is difficult to evaluate because it is subjective and adds the potential for reviewer bias. â¢ Devices Covered. Some laws explain in great detail what type of device is considered an elec- tronic device (e.g., cellular phone, portable navigation device, portable laptop, and tablet), whereas other laws do not define a device and use more general terms. It is unclear if list- ing out different devices is useful to law enforcement with respect to helping them identify additional devices that could be in violation, or if keeping the terminology generic offers law enforcement more flexibility. This is something that was explored during the more detailed analysis and discussions that were held with the smaller sample of jurisdictions. â¢ Association to Vehicular Manslaughter Laws and Jail Time. The authors did not specifi- cally explore this during the initial review, but it might be of some interest. For example, the state of Maryland issues jail time if a driver kills someone with a vehicle while texting. Whether a jurisdiction has a specific vehicular manslaughter law with respect to distracted driving was looked at in the more detailed analysis with the smaller sample of jurisdictions. This may be something to consider once a jurisdiction has a law and would like to take steps to strengthen it.