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86% Of Drivers Support Hands-Free Laws Amid Growing Concerns About Distracted Driving


A new study from Nationwide finds that Americans overwhelmingly support new laws to curb distracted driving. As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Nationwide is renewing its call for all 50 states to enact hands free-primary enforcement laws. This will enable law enforcement to ticket motor vehicle operators who are operating mobile handheld devices behind the heel.

“Despite fewer people on roads and highways during the pandemic more people are dying in fatal crashes,” said Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker. “While it isn’t practical to remove every distraction from motor vehicles, making it a primary offense for the use of handheld devices will reduce crashes and save lives. We know hands-free primary enforcement legislation works. A 2018 analysis2 showed that states that enact this type of legislation experienced a 15% decrease in auto crash related fatalities two years after the enactment of this type of law. Six states in that same analysis saw a decrease of more than 20% in fatality rates.”

Only 24 states have such laws on the books, despite overwhelming public support. There is active legislation pending in 21 states.

Drivers are overwhelmingly supportive of Hands-Free legislation 
88% of consumers say they support legislation to address distracted driving. 86% support legislation in their state that would prohibit drivers from holding their phones while driving to talk, text or for other purposes except in emergency situations.

Though less than half of states have hands-free laws on the books, most drivers think their state has already enacted some form of hands-free legislation:

  • Almost two-thirds (64%) believe there are already laws for distracted driving in their state
  • Nearly two-thirds of drivers (61%) rely on hands-free technology while driving

“Distracted driving is a major contributor to the alarmingly high death toll on our roadways. In 2020, it was a factor in 3,142 crash fatalities – and most likely more,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates). “Nationwide’s new findings clearly demonstrate the public’s overwhelming concern about device use behind the wheel and their support for acting now.  Lawmakers must address this public safety threat by enacting commonsense restrictions. Advocates stands with Nationwide to eliminate distracted driving.”

Survey Methodology: Edelman Data & Intelligence conducted a national online survey of 1,000 adults (ages 18+) US car-owning consumers on behalf of Nationwide. The study was fielded from March 4 to March 11, 2022 and has an overall margin of error of ±3% at the 95% confidence level.

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