Indiana’s hands-free driving law went into effect on July 1, 2020 making it illegal for motorists to use handheld mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. This is an excellent example of a state making public safety a top priority. Distracted drivers not only put themselves in danger, but also their passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians. In fact, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation, “on average, people that text and drive take their attention away from the road for five seconds at a time,” and “crash risk was 2-6 times greater” when drivers held phones while operating a motor vehicle. These statistics are alarming! And this is why the new law is one of zero tolerance. Anyone caught texting while driving will be subject to a fine and points on their driving record. Some apps have made attempts to limit use while driving.
Responsible drivers should always focus on their driving, the driving of others around them, and road conditions. Many motorists who reach for their phones will either text or access a social media platform, like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. Some of these apps also include an audio component which will compromise the driver’s hearing. Sometimes a driver is so attuned to what they see and hear on their phone that they could be oblivious to the fact they are obstructing an ambulance or police car with sirens on. They could drive into stopped traffic, or potentially crash into a cyclist. Driving is not a game; poor decision-making can have very real consequences. An innocent person’s quality of life shouldn’t be destroyed because a reckless driver couldn’t wait reply to a Facebook post or watch a story on Instagram.
Finally, the issue of skill should be addressed squarely. Some defiant, distracted drivers may think skill plays a role. It does not. Whether you just got your learner’s permit – or – you’ve been driving for twenty years, along the same street, at the same time every day, both drivers need 100% of their attention on the road. Attention is key because drivers will also need to rely on their reflexes. For example, if an animal darts into the road, if there is a massive pothole ahead, or if a vehicle is burning so much oil that smoke hinders visibility, then drivers will need to take necessary action to ensure safe operation of their vehicles. These decisions cannot take five seconds to make. A distracted driver may very well cause a multi-vehicle wreck resulting in personal injury or wrongful death.
Kudos to Indiana for expanding on their previous ‘do not text while driving law’ enacted in 2011 with the new law (Indiana Code 9-21-8-59) restricting any hands-on usage with the exception of emergencies. Kentucky’s Hands-Free law (KRS 189.292), still allows use of a hand-held mobile device if being used to dial a person or for GPS navigation services.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, whether in Indiana, Kentucky, or elsewhere, please contact Becker Law Office.