Distracted Driving Laws in Vermont
The state of Vermont takes distracted driving accidents and its efforts to prevent them seriously. Texting and driving laws and handheld device bans have been in place in Vermont since October of 2014. These driving regulations cover the full range of mobile phone use and involve steep traffic tickets and extra provisions for minors. State law enforcement openly reminds drivers that they are constantly on the lookout motorists texting while driving and otherwise clearly engaging in distractive actions.
Vermont’s driving laws are structured to take advantage of numerous strategies proven to reduce rates of accidents. These include graduated laws on the use of mobile devices while driving, accelerating distracted driving penalties for repeat offenders and a broad range of consequences with potential long-term impacts. The state pairs solid education on the facts about distracted driving with its law enforcement for maximum effect.
What is distracted driving in Vermont?
In accordance with research-derived distracted driving facts, Vermont identifies motorists as being distracted any time their cognitive, visual or tactile focuses on the act of driving are broken. Driving distractions are not exclusive to cell phones or electronic devices, as daydreaming and even other passengers can distract a driver.
Drivers lose their cognitive focus when they allow their minds to wander to situations, subject and concerns unrelated to their vehicle and the area in which they are driving. Motorists’ visual focus is compromised when they remove their eyes from the road ahead of them. Tactile focus is lost when they remove one or both hands from the steering wheel to eat, search for something, adjust the radio or for any other reason.
Cell phone use while driving is a particularly dangerous form of distraction because it can incorporate two or even all three types of distractions, severely compromising drivers’ awareness and control.
Distracted Driving Laws in Vermont for Handheld Devices
In an attempt to stop distracted driving, Vermont banned the use of handheld devices of all kinds while driving in 2014. To avoid cell phone distraction, all drivers 18 years of age or older may only talk on their phones while operating a vehicle if they use appropriate hands-free devices or use their phones in speaker mode only. These rules apply at all times on all roads, including when motorists are stopped at red lights, stop signs and other temporary pauses. Drivers are permitted to use their devices in a running vehicle if they have properly and safely pulled into a parking lot, driveway or off the side of the road and the vehicle has come to a full stop.
Texting and Driving Laws in Vermont
No texting and driving is permitted at any time by any motorist in Vermont. State texting while driving laws prohibit the reading, writing and sending of all forms of text-based communication. While it does not include the use of cell phones for GPS navigation purposes, it does include the following:
- Text messages
- Social media apps (e.g. Facebook, Instagram)
Vermont Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Numerous national and state statistics and facts about texting and driving prove that younger, less experienced motorists are at heightened risk of accidents, particularly with the distraction of text messaging and the like. To combat this, Vermont laws against distracted driving contain special provisions for drivers younger than 18 years of age.
No motorist younger than 18 years of age is allowed to use any mobile electronic devices while driving in Vermont. This ban applies to both handheld and hands-free devices for all purposes except GPS navigation and is in effect for the whole of the time that a motorist’s vehicle is running, regardless of whether it is moving or stationary.
Vermont Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
No Vermont laws on texting and driving or distracted driving single out commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders for additional restrictions, requirements or penalties.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Vermont
Vermont distracted driving fines start between $100 and $200 for first violations. They escalate up to $500 with subsequent offenses and will usually involve license points. Motorists may have up to four points added to their drivers license records for an initial texting and driving ticket and as many as five points applied for additional offenses. Supplemental points may be added for violations that occur in construction or school zones.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Vermont
Vermont laws on distracted driving do everything possible to discourage unsafe driving habits at the state level. However, preventing the devastating effects of texting and driving is ultimately the responsibility of individual motorists. Authorities strongly encourage drivers to adopt safe and responsible driving practices.
- Pull over. Drivers who must accept calls or send texts while on the road should pull over, into a parking lot safely off the side of the road and bring the vehicle to a complete stop before handling their devices. They should then re-secure the devices before beginning to drive again.
- Download safe driving apps. Motorists can remove the temptation to text while driving by downloading safe driving apps that prevent texts, calls and other notifications from coming through while the vehicle is in motion and send auto-replies informing senders that motorists are driving and unavailable.
- Prepare before driving. Motorists can drastically reduce consequences of distracted driving by properly preparing before getting behind the wheel. This includes taking time to finish personal grooming tasks and eating before leaving the house, properly securing items and passengers in the vehicle and setting up any necessary GPS devices before beginning to drive.