Gov. Eric J. Holcomb is encouraging drivers to put the phone down and avoid distractions during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an outreach campaign normally observed in April but was moved to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making Indiana’s roads safer has been a critical component of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level agenda. This year, Indiana became the 22nd state in the nation to pass a hands-free device driving law, which prohibits drivers from holding a mobile device, except in emergencies, while their vehicles are moving.
“Cell phones are a part of everyday life, but distracted driving shouldn’t be,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Everyone deserves to arrive at their destination safely so we continue to urge Hoosiers to put down their devices and stay focused on the road.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2012 and 2018, nearly 23,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver in the U.S. In 2018 alone, there were 2,841 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
In Indiana, distracted driving was a contributing factor in more than 10,000 crashes and 24 roadway fatalities last year.
“A priority of the Indiana State Police has been to develop and provide an educational component to our enforcement initiatives so that motorists know what they can and cannot do while operating a vehicle,” said Doug Carter, Indiana State Police Superintendent. “We will continue to do all we can to change distracted behavior with the intent to make all of our roadways safer places for everyone.”
Although texting continues to be a top distraction, any activity that diverts attention from driving is considered distracted driving, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. Eating and drinking, taking selfies, or fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system are all examples and can be equally as dangerous.
“Taking your attention off the road—even for one second—is enough to put your life and the lives of others at risk,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “It doesn’t matter how busy you are, driving distracted, whether it’s checking your email or sending a text, is never worth it. Don’t wait until it’s too late to change your behavior.”
ICJI encourages drivers to activate their phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature or place it in their glove box, center console or back seat until they reach their destination. They can also designate a passenger to be their “designated texter” by allowing them to access their phone.
About the Indiana Hands-Free Law
In 2019, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reported that distracted driving from mobile devices was a factor in at least 1,263 crashes and three fatal crashes. To make Hoosier roads safer, Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed the Indiana Hands-Free law to reduce distracted driving across the state. Beginning July 1, 2020, drivers are prohibited from holding a mobile device, except in emergencies, while their vehicles are moving. For more information on the new law visit www.HandsFreeIndiana.com. Hands-Free Indiana is a partnership between the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana State Police, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Constructors Inc., Indiana Motor Truck Association and ACEC Indiana.