On Wednesday, July 1, amendments to Indiana’s distracted driving law will take effect in an effort to make Indiana roadways safer.
The new law prohibits the handheld use of a cell phone while driving. Touching a phone to, for example, check the weather or look at a photo while driving is not allowed. The new measure specifies, however, that it will be legal for drivers to use phones if they’re mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard or in hands-free mode. Drivers will be able to hold and use a mobile device when their vehicle is stopped.
Infraction fines for violations of this new law can be up to $500 and repeat offenders may be subject to a loss of driving privileges. Violations will not, however, result in points toward a driver’s license suspension until after July 2021.
Drivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with their vehicle’s hands-free technology and may wish to research aftermarket products that facilitate its use, such as a phone mount.
Motorists who are ticketed before July 1, 2021, for using a cellphone while driving will not receive points on their license, which can lead to license suspension.
According to Indiana State Police, every year in North America, an estimated 1.6 million crashes occur as the result of driver inattention. Many of those crashes result in injury or death and an economic impact of around 40 billion dollars.
Making a phone call while driving may increase your odds of being in a crash by as much as 400%. Typing or reading a text takes your eyes off the road an average of five seconds. If you drive 55 mph, you will travel the length of a football field in that same period.
When asked, most people who admit that they text while driving claim to be able to do it safely. However, when tested on a simulator that uses everyday hazards (People crossing the road, animals crossing, sudden traffic stops), almost no one could do it without crashing if texting at the same time.
Indiana State police say distracted driving was to blame in at least 860 injury crashes and 48 fatalities in Indiana last year. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.