Delaware was the 8th state to place a law on distracted driving.
But what exactly are the Delaware distracted driving laws?
If you’re curious to know, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’re going to talk about the laws, the penalties for breaking those laws, and many more about distracted driving.
So without further ado, let’s get into the details.
What is Distracted Driving?
Before we get into the actual laws, it’s important to answer this question. This is because there are many forms of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is any action, instance, or thing that prevents a person from focusing solely on the road and their driving. Now, there are 3 types of distractions:
- Visual – anything or anyone that causes you to take your eyes off the road. It can be a kid, a view, or a device.
- Manual – any activity or action that causes you to remove your hands from the steering wheel when driving. This can be the use of cellular phones or getting something inside your bag.
- Cognitive – anything or anyone that distracts you from driving or hinders you to put your full focus on the road.
Distracted Driving Laws in Delaware
If you noticed, the use of your phone combines all 3 distractions — visual, manual, and cognitive.
This is why Delaware’s distracted driving law focuses on the use of cell phones.
Here is the Delaware distracted driving law stated for the general public:
“No person shall drive a motor vehicle on any highway while using an electronic communication device while such motor vehicle is in motion.”
Electronic communication devices can be cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
However, you are allowed to use an electronic communication device if it has a hands-free function. A hands-free function can be an attachment or a software capability wherein you don’t need to use your hands to use the device.
There is another law, but this is more specific to school bus drivers:
“No driver shall operate a school bus on any highway while using a cellular telephone while such vehicle is in motion and such vehicle is transporting 1 or more children; provided, that this section shall not apply to communications made to and from a central dispatch, school transportation department or its equivalent when the bus is not equipped with a functioning 2-way radio.”
Similar to the first law, school bus drivers are not allowed to use cell phones when driving a moving vehicle. But unlike the first law, these bus drivers are NOT even allowed to use hands-free devices.
This second law also applies to minors.
Just keep in mind, though, that these laws exempt law enforcement officers, firefighters, and medical practitioners, especially those in emergency cases.
Another thing you should note is that these are primary laws. This means that a traffic enforcer can stop you if they see you are using your phone while driving. In turn, they can give you a ticket for breaking the distracted driving law alone.
Penalties for Distracted Driving in Delaware
If you break the first law, the one for the general public, then these are the penalties you will face:
- First offense – $100 fine
- Subsequent offenses occurring within two years after the first offense – $200-$300 fine
For the distracted driving law specific for school bus drivers and minors, these are the penalties you will face if you break this law:
- First offense – $50 – $100 fine
- Subsequent offenses – $100- $200 fine, as well as the removal of the school bus endorsement for at least 6 months
Sure, these penalties are not super harsh. However, if you cause an accident while distracted driving, you can expect more serious consequences.
In Delaware, any death caused by distracted driving is classified as an unclassified misdemeanor, given a fine of at least $1,150 for the first offense, and imprisoned for not more than 30 months.
Other Distracted Driving Scenarios to Avoid
Even though the Delaware distracted driving laws only focus on the use of handheld electronic devices, there are a lot of scenarios that can cause distracted driving.
Remember, distracted driving can be in the form of visual, manual, or cognitive.
Here are some examples of other distracted driving scenarios:
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup, tying the hair, shaving, or any personal grooming activity
- Getting things from a bag
- Looking at your pets or your children
- Getting into a heated conversation with someone on the phone or a passenger
- Looking at a map, whether electronic or paper
- Taking photos
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. You can probably think of a lot more ways you can be distracted while behind the wheel.
And, just because these aren’t laws, you should avoid these distractions at all costs to make sure that everyone is safe.
Frequently Asked Questions on Distracted Driving Laws in Delaware
Still got some questions about distracted driving laws in Delaware? Well, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked ones.
Is it illegal to eat and drive in Delaware?
No – there is no law specifically stating that it is illegal to eat while driving. However, it is considered to be a distracted driving behavior that is highly discouraged by the DMV.
When can you use your cell phone in the car?
You can only use your cell phone or any handheld electronic device when your car is parked or is at a stop on the side of the road. Stopping during a stoplight is not included.
What is the most common distraction for drivers?
According to a law firm, these are the most common distractions to any driver:
- Calling and texting
- Using your GPS
- Adjusting music or controls
- Applying makeup
- Talking to passengers
- Zoning out
- Handling children or pets
Distracted driving is VERY dangerous.
And since using your phone is the number one distraction, the State of Delaware made sure to deal with the issue.
You are NOT allowed to use any handheld device while driving a vehicle. As for school bus drivers and minors, they are NOT even allowed to use a hands-free device.
And though these are the only laws implemented, it’s still important to avoid ALL sources of distracted driving. Yes, that can be something as small as talking to your passengers or adjusting your music.
Remember, it’s not just about avoiding the penalties. It’s about making sure that everyone is safe.
Have a safe drive!