One privilege and duty we take seriously at Hay & Forage Grower and eHay Weekly is to find the most pertinent news possible for forage and hay growers. The subject of this story may be off that beaten path, but the information is important for us all.

Driving while distracted is dumb.

While that may not be news today, it's something we shouldn't lose sight of. Our U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, is spending a lot of time trying to get us to stop talking or texting behind the wheel. It's just so handy to order fertilizer or make a hay sale while driving down the road. But be warned, our state representatives are joining forces with LaHood – introducing bills that will or have become laws making texting or talking on phones illegal.

LaHood blogs about this cause frequently. His March 19 blog at fastlane.dot.gov starts with a warning that, with good weather, more people will be outside and more will need to stay undistracted. He also provides an entertaining video clip of three distracted drivers and a list of states with bans on texting or cell-phone use while driving. The following is a rundown of what's illegal in what state or territory.

A ban on hand-held devices has been enacted in:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Virgin Islands

A texting ban has been enacted in:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Guam

Some states ban cell-phone use in school zones or construction sites, and some place restrictions on novice drivers and school bus drivers.

Six states have laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting restrictions. They are Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Oklahoma. In other states, localities are allowed to ban cell-phone use or texting while driving.

For more information, including a state-by-state list of bans in effect, see the Governors Highway Safety Information Web site.