Safety

New traffic safety laws passed in 2020

Here is an overview of new and noteworthy laws, by state, that involve traffic safety. Some laws are now in effect while others are planned for later in 2021.

  • Idaho, Indiana, South Dakota and Virginia enacted hand-held cell phone bans, bringing the total to 24 states and three territories. South Dakota also upgraded its texting ban from secondary to primary enforcement. Currently, 46 states and three territories ban texting while driving, of which three laws are secondary enforcement.
  • New York expanded its seat belt law to cover all seating positions, becoming the 20th state, along with three territories, to adopt this law. An additional 11 states and one territory require seat belt use only in the front seat.
  • South Dakota revised its Graduated Driver Licensing law to require teens to log more supervised practice driving hours among other improvements.
  • Hawaii passed a law directing the state to adopt a Vision Zero policy, while the District of Columbia Council approved a comprehensive package of Vision Zero legislation. Both laws include provisions addressing speed management and pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
  • The Vermont Legislature passed a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, while voters in five other states reformed marijuana laws via ballot measures. Montana established 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume marijuana for recreational use. Arizona and New Jersey also legalized recreational marijuana, while South Dakota approved legalization for both recreational and medical use. And Mississippi became the first southern state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Learn more about these and other state laws by visiting the Issues section at GHSA.org.