RUSHVILLE – Today marks the end of June and tomorrow marks a big change for Indiana drivers. In an effort to make our roads safer, Governor Eric Holcbomb signed a measure in March into law to prohibit holding mobile devices like cell phones and tablets in your hands while driving.
The effort’s main goal is to cut down on distracted driving on Hoosier roadways.
“As drivers, we all have a responsibility to our fellow Hoosiers to limit eye and hand distractions that can result in tragic injuries and deaths,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This law is about protecting those who travel our roads and those who build and maintain them by preventing as many crashes as possible through smart education and enforcement.”
The new law goes into effect Wednesday. It prohibits drivers from having a mobile device in their hands, with the exception of calling 911 in an emergency. Drivers are still permitted to use voice activated or hands-free technology like speaker phone, Bluetooth or headset.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, across the U.S., serious traffic crashes and fatalities have sharply increased in recent years due in large part to distracted driving. Requiring drivers to put smartphones and other devices away and focus on driving is proven to reduce crashes and deaths.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that have passed hands free driving laws have seen a nearly 20 percent decrease in traffic deaths in the two years after passing the law.
Three independent studies found that crash risk was 2-6 times greater when drivers were manipulating a cell phone versus when they were not.
On average people that text and drive take their attention away from the road for five seconds at a time, increasing the chances of a serious crash substantially. At 55 miles per hour this is the equivalent of driving a full football field blindfolded.
During the first few months with hands-free driving, Indiana State Police troopers and local law enforcement personnel are focusing on educating drivers of the new law. After the initial education campaign, drivers will be fined if they are in violation of the new law. Drivers may also have points assessed against their driver’s licence if found violating the law.
“We (the Rushville Police Department) are prepared to join Indiana State Police Superintendent Carter and his troopers in educating our public on the new Hands-Free Law as well as the dangers of distracted driving. We hope this public awareness campaign will prevent citizens from being cited and fined, but most importantly, we hope this change to our daily lives will make the roadways safer for us all,” RPD Chief Craig Tucker said.
For more information, visit HandsFreeIndiana.com