Distracted driving in Idaho is a serious issue that contributes to the injuries and fatalities of thousands of individuals each year. According to local distracted driving facts, 23 percent of all traffic collisions in 2015 involved an inattentive driver, resulting in the deaths of 51 individuals.

In 2016, 20 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the state involved a distracted motorist, resulting in the fatalities of 64 individuals. To prevent distracted driving accidents, many states have enacted laws that restrict drivers from engaging in certain types of cell phone activity while operating a motor vehicle.

While texting and driving in ID is illegal, not all types of distractive behaviors are. However, motorists can prevent future auto accidents by reducing any dangerous driving behaviors as much as possible. For instance, keeping electronic devices on silent or storing them near the back of the vehicle can help to reduce distractions. For more the driving laws about cell phone use, review the following information.

What is distracted driving in Idaho?

While most driving distractions in Idaho pertain to the use of mobile electronic devices, each state has its own definition of what qualifies as driver distractedness. For instance, distractive behavior often includes any type of activity that diverts a driver’s mind, hands or eyes away from the road ahead.

Therefore, driving a vehicle while tired or fatigued can be just as dangerous as engaging in many other types of distractive behaviors. In 2016, for example, inattentive drivers, compared to the six percent that were caused by fatigued or drowsy motorists, caused 12 percent of all single-vehicle collisions.

Moreover, many effects of texting and driving or other distractive activities were life-threatening during the 2016-year. Of the 4,973 crashes that included an inattentive driver, 21 percent resulted in a personal injury, while 13 percent were fatal.

For instance, inattentive drivers were responsible for 64 fatalities, 367 serious injuries, 1,193 visible injuries and 2,121 possible injuries. Additionally, driver distractions were the contributing factor in 25 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in 2016.

Distracted Driving Laws in Idaho for Handheld Devices

Currently, not all types of cell phone use while driving a vehicle are prohibited under the Idaho legislature. Talking on the phone while driving in ID is allowed and the use of a hands-free communication device is not required under state law.

However, the state’s Transportation Committee is working to pass Senate Bill Number 1283, as this would prohibit drivers from using any type of handheld electronic device while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Additionally, stricter rules would pertain to school bus drivers and novice motorists.

Texting and Driving Laws in Idaho

The act of texting while driving is illegal under Title 49 of the Idaho Statutes. Under these ID texting while driving laws, motorists cannot engage in any type of manual data entry while behind the wheel of a vehicle. For instance, drivers cannot read, write or send text messages, emails, social media posts or instant messages unless they use a voice-operated component to convert speech into text.

If drivers do use a voice-activated device, then they may only remove one hand from the steering wheel to activate or deactivate a function on their cell phone.

Idaho Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Currently, there are no special distracted driving laws in ID for teenage or novice drivers in the state. The state’s cell phone distraction laws pertain to drivers of all ages and experience levels, including teenage motorists. However, if Senate Bill Number 1283 passes, then motorists younger than 21 years of age or those with a learner’s permit, provisional or restricted driver’s license will be prohibited from using any type of electronic device while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Idaho Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

While no special distracted driving law in Idaho pertains to commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, the act of reading, writing or sending text-based messages is prohibited amongst all motorists in the state. Additionally, CDL holders must obey a set of national regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

To stop distracted driving amongst CDL holders, all commercial vehicle operators are prohibited from using handheld mobile devices while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Under this law, commercial vehicle drivers need a hands-free communication device to talk on the phone. If CDL holders do not use a hands-free component, then the phone must rest in a nearby location and drivers may only press one button to begin or end a call.

Moreover, no current laws against distracted driving in ID concern to commercial drivers with school bus endorsements. However, if Senate Bill Number 1283 passes, then special rules will apply to school bus drivers as well. Under this law, school bus drivers would be prohibited from using any type of mobile device whenever they transport one or more passengers at a time.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Idaho

If motorists violate the Idaho texting and driving laws, then the state will deem them guilty of committing a traffic infraction. However, motorists will not acquire a violation point on their driving record and they will not be guilty of committing a moving violation. Moreover, possible distracted driving consequences may include the following penalty fees through the Idaho Supreme Court:

  • Penalty fees: $25
  • Court costs: $16.50
  • County justice fund fees: $5
  • Peace officer training fees: $15
  • ISTARS technology fund fees: $10
  • Emergency surcharge fees: $10

If the aforementioned Senate bill passes, then the possible penalties of violating this law will include fees of between $100 and $250. However, if the distracted motorist causes an accident, then the penalty fee will double. Additionally, a motorist who violates this law more than three times within a three-year period would lose his or her driving credentials for up to 90 days.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Idaho

Texting and driving accidents in Idaho are serious and often deadly, as reading, writing and sending texts while operating a motor vehicle impairs a driver’s cognitive, manual and visual abilities. However, motorists can prevent texting accidents and other dangerous distractions by:

  • Pledging to stow their phones in a safe, unreachable location whenever they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
  • Turning their phones on silent or do not disturb mode.
  • Securing children and pets near the back of the vehicle.
  • Keeping noise and conversation down to a minimum.
  • Downloading a phone-silencing app such as AT&T DriveMode.
  • Keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
  • Refusing to drive if they feel overly tired, anxious or angry.
Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.