Distracted Driving Laws in Wyoming
Distracted driving in Wyoming refers to any activity that pulls the attention of the driver away from the road and operation of the vehicle. April is distracted driving awareness month in Wyoming. The state encourages drivers to stay extra vigilant during this time. Accidents caused by a distracted motorist may result in penalties and fines. The state has introduced new slick-top patrol cars to help law enforcement officers see distracted drivers before the drivers notice the patrol car. The patrol cars are still clearly marked with law enforcement decals but do not have a light bar on the top of the vehicle.
According to state texting and driving laws, it is illegal to send or read text messages while driving a car in Wyoming. Certain cities have stricter cellphone rules, with some banning the use of handheld devices completely. Depending on the district, fines can reach several hundreds of dollars and result in a misdemeanor charge. Learn more about these charges and find out how to stay safe below.
What is distracted driving in Wyoming?
Wyoming classifies any activity that causes the driver to move his or her hands from the steering wheel or divert his or her attention from the road as a distraction. There are three types of driving distractions: manual, visual and cognitive. A manual driving distraction is one that forces the motorist to remove his or her hands from the wheel. A visual distraction is one that requires the driver’s eyes to be drawn away from the road. A cognitive distraction takes a driver’s mind off of the road and onto something else.
The following distracted driving facts from 2017 outline the official cause of the accidents that occurred in Wyoming that year:
- Cellphone use was the cause of 180 crashes.
- Other in-vehicle distractions caused 377 crashes.
- Outside distractions caused 304 crashes.
- Other electronic devices caused 51 crashes.
Distracted Driving Laws in Wyoming for Handheld Devices
While some areas of Wyoming allow the use of handheld devices, there are distracted driving laws against using a handheld cellphone within certain city limits. Hands-free devices are allowed and are encouraged. Handheld devices do not just refer to cell phones. Studies show that 51 crashes in 2017 were caused by distracted drivers engaged with electronic devices other than a cellphone. These items include computers, TVs and palm held electronics.
There are exceptions to this law. In some cities, a driver who is legally parked can use a handheld cellphone within city limits. Similarly, cell phone use while driving is permitted if the driver needs to contact emergency services in the event of an accident.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has issued a new road and safety application for smart phones. The application uses the driver’s existing hands-free technology to announce approaching incidents and road conditions.
Texting and Driving Laws in Wyoming
There are state-wide laws banning texting while driving in Wyoming. A number of slick-top patrol cars are used to blend into the general population on the roads to help officers identify those who are texting while driving before they notice the officers. Texting and driving accidents are the result of a manual, visual and cognitive distraction. As discussed previously, these distractions are as follows:
- Manual – The driver must take his or her hands off the wheel to read or compose a text message.
- Visual – A driver’s eyes are taken from the road to the electronic device, resulting in a visual distraction.
- Cognitive – Finally, the driver’s mind is not on the task at hand but on the task of composing or reading a text message.
Texting and driving laws in Wyoming are categorized as primary laws. This means that police officers are allowed to pull over a driver for violating these laws. In other states where these are not primary laws, police can charge drivers for breaking this law, but only after stopping them for another reason.
Wyoming Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Novice drivers are restricted from using a cellphone, regardless of whether they are outside city limits or in areas that typically allow drivers to operate these devices. In addition, they are not allowed to use handheld or hands-free devices in the vehicle. Facts about distracted driving show that teens are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than those older than 20 years of age. Research suggests that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes involving teen drivers.
Wyoming Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Commercial drivers must adhere to the state-wide ban on texting while driving. Additional restrictions for commercial drivers include the banning of handheld devices. If a commercial driver is convicted of violating these laws, the violation will go on a CDL driving record, and his or her CDL license will be subject to cancellation. Additionally, he or she may be disqualified from ever holding a CDL license again. Drivers who are transporting hazardous materials are subject to harsher penalties.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Wyoming
Depending on the city, drivers may face varying traffic fines and penalties for using a handheld device while driving within city limits. A driver who is found guilty of violating a distracted driving law may be subject to a misdemeanor charge and fines of hundreds of dollars. Drivers who are conviction of a texting violation may also be subject to a fine.
Drivers with a commercial license face stricter penalties if convicted of violating texting while driving laws, as well as other distraction laws. Those who have been found guilty of a first offense of using a handheld mobile device or texting while driving may have their license disqualified for about two months. A third or subsequent conviction results in a much longer disqualification.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Wyoming
The Wyoming department of transportation advises passengers to speak out if a driver is becoming distracted. Help stop distracted driving on Wyoming roads by following these tips and guidelines on staying alert:
- Pull over when calling someone or using a cellphone.
- Do not eating food while you are driving. Finish all meals before you begin your journey or plan to eat when you arrive.
- If you are forced to dial a number in an area that allows handheld devices, enter a few numbers at a time, looking back at the road between each entry.
- Avoid distracted driving accidents by putting on makeup prior to your journey or after you arrive at your destination. This applies to all grooming activities.
- Avoid engaging in emotionally charged conversations, either on the phone or with fellow passengers.
- Do not adjust dials in the car while driving. Make sure all settings are adjusted before you operate the vehicle.