Hands off Laws and What They Mean for Cell Phone Use in Cars

When it comes to driving, nothing is more important than safety. That’s why, in many states, it is illegal to talk or text on a smartphone while driving.

Generally, laws against cell phone use while driving are intended to keep drivers from using a cellphone or other electronic devices while driving. But, more and more, there are exceptions to the rule in the form of hands-free or hands-off laws. The exception applies when drivers use their phones if they are in hands-free mode. It’s important for drivers to understand how the rules work, as well as when they might not apply to their situation.

How to Use Devices or Blue Tooth Technology Hands Free While Driving

While rules vary from state to state, hands-free rules typically apply to cell phones, tablets, music and gaming devices – in other words, to stand-alone devices that can be retrieved on demand in a vehicle. Generally, these types of rules allow you to:

  1. Engage with GPS functions
  2. Start or answer calls
  3. Talk on a wireless device
  4. Use your device for navigation
  5. Use it in an emergency to request help

Phone Syncing and Other Alternatives to Cell Phone Use While Driving

Another alternative to cell phone use is phone syncing, which enables drivers to take a necessary call – for example, if stopped in traffic – without posing a danger to themselves or other vehicles around them. Phone syncing as a feature in newer cars, in particular, has enabled people to continue to use their devices with their hands safely on the wheel. The integration of this type of technology makes it easier and less distracting to access information such as directions while driving. What’s important is that you familiarize yourself with whatever device or technology you plan to use before hitting the road.

Check Your State for Legal Details on Hands-Free (Hands-Off) Laws

You know what they say: the devil is in the details. No one wants to break the law unintentionally – or worse, get in an accident while using their device while behind the wheel. In Illinois, for instance, hands-free devices and Blue Tooth technology are allowed for drivers 19 and older, three years older than the legal driving age. Yet, also in Illinois, drivers are only permitted to use a cell phone that is not hands free in limited cases:

  • To report an emergency;
  • While parked on the shoulder of a roadway; or
  • While stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and if the vehicle is in neutral or parked.

In other words, these laws don’t guarantee you’ll be in the clear in case of an accident, even if the other driver may have been at fault. Drivers involved in an accident that is believed to have resulted from distracted driving may still face criminal penalties or incarceration.

Note to Distracted Drivers: Using Hands-Free Devices Isn’t Always Safe

If you’re like countless other drivers, you like to enjoy music from your preferred device while on the road. Just like the knob on the radio dial, these types of features can be distracting if you’re not careful and have led to many accidents and injuries. Engagement with a device such as uploading music should only be done from a parked position, before you hit the road.

If you plan to use an unfamiliar vehicle, be especially cautious. Keep in mind that any distraction while driving can lead to an accident. While no one expects that to happen, it’s smart to be covered with comprehensive auto insurance that protects you and your loved ones. Even if you’re extra careful, the driver next to you may not be.

Ask Your Auto Insurer for Details on Distracted Driver Coverage

Driving laws are complicated, but you’ll be more protected if you speak to an agent to get a thorough understanding of your insurance coverage. Auto insurance companies view reckless driving as a risk, and that can extend to anything that harms the driver, their vehicle, personal property or others on the road. In addition to being familiar with local laws, contact your insurer to find out if any rules regarding the use of devices are written into your policy.

To find an excellent insurance plan, contact Amigo Insurance today. Our agents are ready to help you compare quotes and find the best deal for your needs.

A person driving.
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