Distracted driving is a major traffic safety issue.
With more than 220 million people on cell phones today it’s no surprise that using your cell phone while driving is commonplace.
New Hampshire is one of many states that has now banned hand-held phone use by all drivers. Legislatures in other states have prohibited cell phone use by younger drivers or school bus drivers, improved data collection or limited local authority on the issue.
Texting and driving accidents are still prevalent in NH because of the attention texting requires. According to the Driving Toward Zero Program, a single text can distract a driver for up to five seconds. Over 5,000 drivers, passengers and pedestrians in the U.S. are killed annually due to inattention while on the road, an unfortunate statistic for a preventable issue.
Distracted Driving Laws in New Hampshire for Handheld Devices
The most common type of distracted driving law that exists is the use of handheld devices like GPS, cellphones, tablets and more. Passed in 2014, the hands-free law in NH addresses drivers’ use of handheld devices except for the below exceptions:
- An an emergency call to public safety agencies for legitimate reasons.
- The driver is using a two-way radio.
- A hands-free bluetooth device is being used.
Note: If the driver is younger than 18 years old, hands-free devices are not permitted at any time while operating a vehicle.
Texting and Driving Laws in New Hampshire
Unlike in other states, NH’s texting and driving laws allow police officers to stop drivers they suspect are texting or using a cellphone unsafely. Because texting and driving is classified as a primary offense under state law, drivers do not have to commit other traffic violations to be pulled over.
New Hampshire safety officials take texting while driving laws seriously, so drivers need to know when it is appropriate to text in a vehicle to prevent fines and accidents.
The law applies to all drivers while they are behind the wheel in the flow of traffic. This means that texting at stop lights and stop signs, even if the vehicle is completely stationary, is also illegal. No texting and driving is permitted until the vehicle is parked or not in a moving traffic lane.
Newer Drivers New Hampshire Laws on Distracted Driving
The NH Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) states that drivers younger than 18 years old with a youth operator license can not:
- Operate a vehicle from 1 to 4 a.m.
- Drive with more than one non-relative passenger who is younger than 25 years old unless accompanied by a licensed adult aged 25 or older
- Drive with more passengers than seatbelts in a vehicle
- Use electronic devices of any kind unless reporting an emergency
While these laws do not stop distracted driving altogether, they may dissuade novice drivers, particularly those with a learner’s permit, from adopting some dangerous driving habits.
CDL Holder New Hampshire Distracted Driving Regulations
Commercial drivers have different rules. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders receive stricter distracted driving penalties when they perform hazardous actions while driving. As CDL holders operate larger vehicles they must follow higher driving standards.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) indicated that about 8 percent of crashes involving large trucks were caused by CDL holders getting distracted. Motor carriers cannot require CDL holders to use hand-held phones in any fashion. Cell phone distraction resulting from dialing, pressing a button or reaching for a phone is illegal under NH law. Txting and driving is prohibited for commercial drivers.
What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in New Hampshire
Anyone found to violate laws will be fined. Distracted driving fines are determined by the number of offenses drivers have committed. Below is a list of fines:
- First offense: $100 fine
- Second offense: $250 fine
- Third offense within two years: $500 fine
However, distracted drivers who cause collisions, injuries or deaths will be subject to fines of up to $1,000. Special consequences for distracted driving for commercial drivers include license suspension. After two or more distracted driving convictions within a certain period, CDL holders’ licenses will be disqualified for up to 120 days. Their employers may also face penalties like fines.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving in New Hampshire
To ensure road safety, drivers should abstain from all cell phone use while driving and refrain from other distracting tasks such as eating, reading, smoking and talking emotively. Quick tips:
- Turn off all electronic devices.
- Make sure all passengers and pets are buckled in for safety.
- Avoid eating or responding to work email.