By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You know you can’t text while driving. But is it legal to text at a red light?
A study conducted recently by Allstate found that 34 percent of drivers admit to checking their phones while stopped at a red light, and the survey also found that 36 percent of respondents admitted to using their phone in stop-and-go traffic or construction zones. Which kind of makes no sense – why would more people admit using a cell phone when driving slowly than when actually stopped, but who am I to question a survey?
What I can question is: is it illegal to text while behind the wheel but stopped at a red light?
The answer is that while each of the 49 states has some prohibitions against texting while driving (and in answer to your next question, beware of Montana drivers who can text and drive), state laws are worded differently so not all are explicit on when texting is outlawed.
Florida’s law specifically says that if the car is stopped, texting is allowed. But most other states define driving as being in control of a motor vehicle that isn’t removed from the flow of traffic, which means that if you’re in traffic, or stopped at a red light, you can’t text.
More importantly, Allstate found that many accidents where someone was texting at a red light were caused when the texter realized that the light had changed but hadn’t picked up his head to see the car in front of him hadn’t started moving.
So, law or no law, put the phone away until you’ve stepped out of the car if you don’t want to have to be in the good hands of your insurance company.