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Virtually every state has laws forbidding texting while driving. However, iOS devices have the ability to send text messages through the Voice-activated Siri (Android devices may have similar capabilities). For instance, you can say the following:

Me: Hey Siri. Send a text to my wife.

Siri: What do you want to say?

Me: Traffic is bad, I'll be home a little late.

Siri: [Displays my message on screen] Ready to send it?

Me: Yes.

All of this can be done without touching the phone, and although a transcription of your message appears on the screen, it is not necessary to look at it.

From a legal point of view, would asking Siri to send a text while you are driving be considered texting and driving?

  • As bithakr's answer implies, there aren't actually laws against "texting and driving" as such. Rather, a well written law will concern "manual entry" or the like. Manual entry could be something other than texting, and, as your question points out, texting could be something other than manual entry. – phoog Oct 3 '16 at 15:04
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All of these are state laws, so answers will vary. NC defines illegal operation of a mobile handset as use to: (§ 20-137.4A)

(1) Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or

(2) Read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.

So using a voice assistant in NC would not be manually entering text and therefore not criminal. The part of the law applying to motor carriers explicitly exempts voice commands and "hands-free" devices.

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It actually depends, because voice to text studies have proven that those devices can be as distracting to a driver as manual texting. Considering that many states are now cracking down on distracted driving -- and many law enforcement officials are looking for any reason to pull people over for that offense -- it can be better just to pull over to the side of the road to send a text rather than chance getting ticketed by a cop.

In the time it takes to glance at a phone, if you're driving at 55 miles per hour, that's the equivalent of driving across a football field while blindfolded. A lot can happen in that short amount of time, and your defensive capabilities are slower when you are multitasking. Studies have found that it takes twice as long to react while texting as it does when not texting. This means if there is an obstacle in front of you, what took two seconds to avoid will now take four seconds. Human beings just aren't meant to multitask, even if we think that we are good at it. So the bottom line is, even if it's technically legal in your state or county, it doesn't mean it's a good practice.

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    However, we generally aim to say what the law is, rather than advocate a particular course of action as legally most prudent for social or even legal reasons. It's really the position of the person's attorney to give advice, since the attorney would know for example whether police are nevertheless ticketing people even though the handheld-device law isn't being violated. – user6726 Feb 13 '17 at 16:15
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    While interesting information, studies about the consequences of distracted driving doesn't answer the original question: is voice to text legally considered texting and driving. Saying "it's not a good idea" isn't really what this question is seeking to answer. – Thunderforge Feb 13 '17 at 16:17
  • @JenniferKainKilgore, I see you have been adding links to your own site enjuris.com in all of your answers; be aware that links to your own site are automatically set to "no follow" by LSE so you don't get any SEO payoff – BlueDogRanch Feb 15 '17 at 20:10

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