Distracted Driving Laws in Delaware
While texting and driving in Delaware pertains to reading, writing and sending text messages while behind the wheel of a vehicle, there are other actions that are distractive for motorists. Driving distractions may include holding a cell phone or another type of electronic device and eating or drinking while operating an automobile. According to national distracted driving facts, driver distractedness is a dangerous and often deadly behavior, claiming the lives of 3,450 individuals in 2016. Other distractions such as drowsy driving resulted in 803 traffic-related fatalities in 2016. However, to prevent future accidents from distractive practices, many states have enacted laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving.
Under the Delaware distracted driving laws, motorists cannot use handheld mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle on public roads. If they do, then they may lose their driving privileges, especially if they operate commercial vehicles or school buses. To learn more about these local cell phone laws, review the information below.
What is distracted driving in Delaware?
According to local facts about distracted driving in DE, inattentive drivers were the primary cause of 6,095 crashes during the 2016-year. Of these crashes, 4,735 resulted in property damages while 1,353 caused personal injuries, and seven of these crashes were fatal.
In comparison, driver distractedness contributed to 5,511 crashes in 2015. These crashes resulted in 4,267 property damages, 1,239 personal injuries and five deaths. However, before the Delaware distracted driving law of 2011 went into effect, driver distractedness contributed to 11 traffic fatalities in 2009, five in 2008 and nine deaths in 2007.
While most laws highlight illegal cell phone use while driving, other dangerous driver behaviors may include eating or drinking, applying makeup or interacting with other passengers while operating a motor vehicle. Operating a motor vehicle while tired, depressed, anxious or angry is also dangerous, as doing so diverts the motorist’s mind away from the road ahead.
Distracted Driving Laws in Delaware for Handheld Devices
To stop distracted driving and other types of dangerous driver behaviors, the State of Delaware enacted its first hands-free cell phone law in 2011. As part of these laws against distracted driving, the state prohibits motorists from using any type of handheld electronic device while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Under this law, it is illegal for drivers to use handheld mobile devices, portable computers, tablets, digital assistants, pagers, laptops or handheld gaming consoles while operating a motor vehicle.
Delaware was the eighth state in the nation to ban the use of handheld wireless communication devices. However, the act of talking on the phone while driving is not prohibited if drivers use a hands-free component such as Bluetooth.
Texting and Driving Laws in Delaware
Texting while driving in Delaware is illegal, as the state prohibits the act of reading, writing and sending text messages, emails or instant messages while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. To reduce the instances of texting-related accidents and fatalities, Delaware was the 30th state in the nation to enact this law. In addition to this no texting and driving policy, motorists cannot use the internet while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Delaware Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
While the Delaware texting while driving laws ban the use of handheld cell phones amongst drivers of all ages and experience levels, motorists can generally talk on the phone while operating a motor vehicle if they use a hands-free device. However, members of the state’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) program cannot use any type of electronic device while operating a motor vehicle, even if they use a hands-free component such as Bluetooth. These laws pertain to level one learner’s permit holders who are between 16 and 18 years of age.
Delaware Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Any type of cell phone distraction is prohibited amongst school bus drivers and commercial vehicle operators. In the state, it is illegal for school bus operators to use any type of electronic mobile phone device while operating a school bus and transporting one or more children to or from school. However, school bus operators may use a mobile phone in an emergency situation. Moreover, commercial vehicle drivers without school bus endorsements may use a hands-free component while driving if they need to talk on the phone.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Delaware
While most distracted driving consequences in DE include civil penalty fees, commercial vehicle or school bus drivers may lose their privileges to operate a vehicle for a designated period of time. Most distracted driving fines for operators of passenger vehicles include the following:
- $100 after the first offense
- $200 to $300 for each subsequent offense within a two-year period
However, motorists will not acquire any driving record violation points after violating the state’s cell phone law. The fine for school bus operators ranges between $50 and $100 for first offenses and $100 and $200 for each subsequent offense. However, after each subsequent offense, bus drivers will lose their school bus endorsement for at least six months. Furthermore, the consequences for distracted driving as a commercial driver may include fines of up to $2,750 and the disqualification of CDL credentials.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Delaware
To prevent texting and driving accidents in DE, motorists must follow the rules and regulations under the state’s cell phone law. Additionally, motorists can reduce driving distractions by completing the following:
- Signing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Parent-Teen Driving Contract
- Downloading a text-blocking smartphone app such as AT&T DriveMode, On My Way (OMW), It Can Wait or Lifesaver
- Securing children or pets near the back of the vehicle
- Storing phones in the glove box or another hard-to-reach location
- Turning all mobile devices on silent or “do not disturb” before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle