When it comes to safe driving, Jim Morrison sang it best: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” In Arkansas, this isn’t simply good advice. It’s the law.
Distracted driving – any activity that pulls your eyes or attention from the road – is a public safety hazard. In 2019, more than 3,000 people in the U.S. were killed in car wrecks where at least one driver was distracted (NHTSA).
As we have seen the impact of distracted driving in recent years, many state governments have created laws to encourage safe driving practices. And because cell phone use is one of the most dangerous distractions, Arkansas lawmakers have spelled out exactly how and when drivers can use their smartphones.
Do the same rules apply to texting and talking? Can you use a navigation app while driving? What about construction or school zones? You’ll find the answer to these questions in two Arkansas statutes known as Paul’s Law and the Fewer Distractions mean Safer Driving Act.
Let’s take a closer look at Arkansas cell phone and driving laws.
Is there a law in Arkansas against texting and driving?
As of July 2017, it is illegal to text and drive in Arkansas.
“Texting” also includes using social media or other apps on your phone – anything that involves typing, reading, or posting. Arkansas drivers can still type in a phone number or person’s name in order to make a voice call.
The 2017 statute is known as Paul’s Law. It’s named for a Jonesboro father who was killed in a head-on crash. The other driver was reportedly typing a text.
Can I use a Maps app?
Yes. For the average citizen, there are two exceptions to the above ban on texting:
- Reporting an emergency or an illegal activity
- Using a GPS system, like Google Maps or Apple Maps. This means you may still use your phone’s map apps when you need help finding that new restaurant.
What’s the penalty for texting and driving?
Fines range from $250 for the first offense to $500 for each subsequence offense.
Of course, anyone who causes injury or death while texting and driving may face additional charges.
Can you talk on the phone while driving?
In Arkansas, the answer depends on your age and location. The Fewer Distractions Mean Safer Driving Act outlines these restrictions.
- Under 18: You cannot use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Period. Voice calls and texts are both prohibited.
- Ages 18-21: You may use your cell phone only if you use a hands-free device to do so. Wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker are allowed, but you cannot use a handheld device while driving. Texting is always prohibited.
- 21 or older: You may use a handheld or hands-free device to talk on the phone while driving. Again, texting is always illegal.
No matter your age, it’s always best to give the road your full attention. Cell phones account for nearly 15% of all distracted driving fatalities in the US each year. Don’t become a part of that statistic.
If you’re passing a school while children are present, take note: It’s illegal for any driver, of any age, to use a handheld phone in a school zone. That includes text messages and voice calls.
If you absolutely must take that call on your daily commute, hands-free devices are acceptable in school zones for drivers over the age of 18. Hands-free devices include wireless headphones or your car’s Bluetooth speaker system, which allow you to make a voice call while keeping both hands on the wheel.
Learn more: School Zone Laws in Arkansas
Cell Phones in Highway Work Zones
In addition to school zones, there’s another place where Arkansas law prohibits all cell phone use: highway work zones.
When workers are present, drivers may only use hands-free devices like Bluetooth.
Learn more: Construction Zone Driving Laws
On Your Side, By Your Side
If you’ve been in a wreck because another driver was texting and driving, you may need a personal injury attorney. You may have legal rights to compensation for your injuries, and Taylor King Law can help. We’ll act quickly to get the distracted driver’s phone records and ensure you’re taken care of.
Call us today at 1.800.CAR.WRECK (1-800-227-9732). You can also reach us online through our chat feature or using our Online Contact Form. You’re just a call or click away from getting the help you need.
At Taylor King Law we’ll be on your side – by your side.