AAA: Study Traffic Laws Before Taking a Road Trip

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. Which for many means vacations and road trips. That's why AAA urges travelers to study traffic laws before heading out of town.

“Familiarizing yourself with key traffic laws before you cross state lines can help keep you on the road instead of racking up hefty fines on the side of it,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona.

To help road trippers, AAA has compiled the following study guide from the AAA Digest of Motor Laws. The list provides traffic law information for popular drive destinations, with many differing from the laws Arizonans are used to:

California
Cell Phones It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless it is being used in hands-free mode. Drivers under age 18 are not allowed to use a cell phone, even with hands-free devices. Enforcement is primary, meaning drivers can be stopped for this without any other traffic offense taking place.
Text Messaging All drivers are prohibited from writing, sending, or reading a text-based communication while driving. Enforcement is primary.
Child Passenger Restraints Children under age 8 or less than 57 inches must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system in the rear seat.
Move Over Drivers are required to slow down and vacate the lane closest to a stationary emergency response vehicle flashing emergency lights, if safe to do so. This includes tow trucks and Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) vehicles.  
Pick-Up Truck Bed Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for drivers and all passengers (age 16 and older). Enforcement is primary.
Colorado
Cell Phones Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a wireless telephone while driving, even with hands-free devices.
Text Messaging Text messaging is prohibited for all drivers. Enforcement is primary.
Child Passenger Restraints All children under the age of 8 shall be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. 
Move Over Drivers must reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest to stationary emergency vehicles and tow vehicles.
Pick-Up Truck Bed Riding in a pickup truck bed is not permitted unless a person is seated in an enclosed cargo area.
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for the driver and front seat passengers age 16 and older. Children ages 8 until 16 must wear seat belts, no matter their position in the vehicle.
Nevada
Cell Phones Cell phone use while driving is prohibited unless it is being used in hands-free mode. Enforcement is primary.
Text Messaging All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Enforcement is primary.
Child Passenger Restraints Children under age 6 and who weigh less than 60 lbs. must be secured in a child passenger restraint system in the rear seat.   
Move Over Drivers must reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest to stationary emergency vehicle and tow vehicles.
Pick-Up Truck Bed Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for children under age 18.
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers.
New Mexico
Cell Phones Drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellular phones in Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Teen drivers in instruction and provisional phases are banned from using any wireless devices while driving in any part of the state.
Text Messaging Teen drivers in instruction and provisional phases are banned from using any wireless devices while driving.
Child Passenger Restraints Children ages 5 and 6 or less than 60 lbs. must be restrained in a booster seat or appropriate safety seat. All children under 18 must be properly restrained in a child restraint device or a seat belt.
Move Over Drivers are required to reduce speed and vacate the lane closest to emergency vehicles, if safe to do so. This does not include tow trucks.
Pick-Up Truck Bed Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 18.
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for drivers and all passengers. Enforcement is primary.
Texas
Cell Phones Drivers in El Paso are prohibited from using a handheld cell phone while driving. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a wireless communication device statewide during the 12-month period following the issuance of a driver’s license; enforcement is primary.
Text Messaging Drivers in El Paso, Austin, Galveston, McAllen, Missouri City, San Antonio, and Stephenville are prohibited from texting while driving. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a wireless communication device statewide during the 12-month period following the issuance of a driver’s license; enforcement is primary.
Child Passenger Restraints Children under age 8 and less than 57 inches must be secured in a child passenger safety seat system in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Children ages 8 until 17 or at least 57 inches must be secured by a safety belt.
Pick-Up Truck Bed Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is prohibited for children age 18 and under.
Move Over Drivers are required to vacate the lane next to stationary emergency vehicles and tow trucks or slow down to a speed not to exceed 20 mph less than the posted speed limit.
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for drivers and all passengers. Enforcement is primary.
Sonora, Mexico
Speed Limits Speed limits are posted in kilometers rather than miles per hour.
Proceedings In Mexico, you are assumed guilty until proven innocent. This means that if you are arrested for any reason, you may be jailed until you can prove your innocence.
Auto Insurance U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico. A Mexico auto policy is the only form of insurance the authorities will accept as evidence of financial responsibility. Drivers who cannot provide this proof may be subject to arrest. Mexican auto insurance can be purchased online ataz.aaa.com/insurance/mexico.htm.
Arizona
Cell Phones Arizona does not have a law that prohibits cell phone use for drivers.
Text Messaging Ban Drivers in Phoenix and Tucson are prohibited from texting while driving.
Child Passenger Restraints All children under the age of 5 are to be restrained in a child passenger restraint system. Children ages 5 until 16 are required to be in a seat belt in all seats.
Move Over Drivers are required to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest to any stationary vehicles with flashing or warning lights, including stranded drivers, emergency vehicles and tow trucks.
Pick-Up Truck Bed Arizona does not have a law that prohibits riding in the cargo area of a pick-up truck.
Seat Belts Seat belts are required for driver and front seat passengers.  Children under 16 are required to be in seat belts in all seats.

For additional traffic laws in these states, or information on traffic laws in other states, visit the AAA Digest of Motor Laws online at http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on the streets and highways of the state as well as providing insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.