Distracted driving is a frequent cause of accidents in Connecticut and across the country. Teen drivers seem to be especially prone to distraction from cell phones and other electronic devices. Public awareness materials and driver’s education courses may help teens understand the risks of distracted driving. Parents may also be able to help by demonstrating safe driving practices, including not using a cell phone while behind the wheel. Connecticut has certain restrictions designed to reduce the frequency of distracted driving among teens.
According to materials from the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is a frequent cause of fatal accidents. In 2017, there were 3,166 people who died in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Distracted behavior, especially texting, is very common among younger drivers. Data from the NHTSA indicates that people between the ages of 16 and 24 use handheld electronics while driving more often than drivers in older age groups.
To help reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents, the Connecticut DMV provides information on specific restrictions for young drivers. Connecticut law states that teens under 18 years old who have a learner’s permit may not use mobile electronic devices (including cell phones) at all while they are driving. This restriction includes hands-free devices and any personal electronics with video screens. The same restriction applies to teens with driver’s licenses until they turn 18. Adult drivers over 18 years old may not use handheld electronic devices or cell phones while driving, except in emergency situations. State law allows adult drivers to use hands-free devices while behind the wheel. However, it is usually best for drivers to put their phones away entirely to avoid visual and cognitive distraction.