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Don't let distracted driving derail your road trip

With the onset of August, many California families are looking for ways to squeeze in one more summer adventure before the kids head back to school. One relatively cost-effective way to take that last family vacation is by heading out on a cross-country road trip. For example, California parents could consider the historical Route 66, a road trip that stretches from California to Chicago, covering eight states between.

In addition to packing the maps and the camera, there is one final task that parents should check off the list before heading out on the road: being aware of the laws on distracted driving in each state spanned by Route 66. Currently, 30 states, several cities, and the District of Columbia all have laws on texting and cell phone use behind the wheel in order to prevent auto accident injury and death. However, these laws can vary widely from state to state, so drivers should be prepared.

Just because distracted driving laws are not posted like speed limits does not mean that they will not be enforced, says Nancy White of the American Automobile Association, which has a helpful list of distracted driving laws on its website. "Drivers are still responsible for knowing the cell phone laws that apply in each state," she said.

Here is a brief overview of the laws in Route 66 states: California is the only state that completely forbids cell phone use of any kind behind the wheel. Illinois prohibits texting, but the city of Chicago forbids all cell phone use. In Missouri, drivers under the age of 21 may not text behind the wheel, and texting is also forbidden in Kansas and Texas, where drivers may not use their cell phones at all in school zones. There are no distracted driving laws in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona, although some individual cities have relevant laws.

Source: MSNBC, "Distracted driving and the summer road trip," Harriet Baskas, 15 July 2011

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