Evaluating the enforceability of texting laws: Strategies tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts

Richard Retting, Karen Sprattler, Heather Rothenberg, and Thomas Sexton
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

This evaluation of distracted driving laws in CT and MA was conducted to determine the enforceability of texting laws, and to test methods that were employed to enforce these laws. In both Connecticut and Massachusetts four waves of distracted driving enforcement were conducted during 2013 and 2014. Meetings were held with participating enforcement offenders regarding their experiences enforcing texting laws. Key observations made by the officers were the importance of officer training, roll calls that focus on texting enforcement, and creating partnerships with local and State enforcement agencies.

Results of the evaluation indicated that texting laws are enforceable in addition to identifying viable strategies that police can use to enforce these laws. Importantly, having a strong set of distracted driving laws can help with the enforcement of texting laws. This was proven to be effective in situations where officers were unable to prove that a driver was reading, writing, and/or sending a text message, but were able to turn to other laws such as handheld cellphone and impeded-operation laws.

Reference
Retting, R., Sprattler, K., Rothenberg, H., & Sexton, T. (2017, March). Evaluating the enforceability of texting laws: Strategies tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts (Report No. DOT HS 812 367). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.