Odds are you’ve been driving and picked up your cell phone to send a quick text or answer a call you’d been waiting on all day.
Many people are guilty of doing just that, but effective July 1, that won’t be allowed while driving.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1070 into law back in March of this year. The new law will prohibit drivers from holding or using a handheld mobile device while operating a moving vehicle.
Possible consequences of breaking the law could include a fine of up to $500 and even losing a driver’s license for multiple violations.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018; those killed included 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists.
The NHTSA website defines distracted driving as an activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking, texting, eating and drinking, talking to other people in the vehicle, changing the radio, entertainment or navigation system.
Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds; when going 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed, according to their website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Motor Vehicle Safety page estimates nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured each day in crashes that are reported to have involved a distracted driver. Distractions are defined in three categories: visual, manual and cognitive.
Given the era of more advanced technology and the fact that many young drivers, who lack driving experience, have a tendency to think they’re invincible, this can lead to unnecessary heartbreak and grief for families everywhere when things do go wrong.
Many local organizations, including Parkview Regional Medical Center, already have resources that encourage people to limit distracted driving, including their “Don’t Text and Drive” Campaign.
The Parkview campaign has online resources as well as public service announcements, including vehicles with decals with their “Don’t Text and Drive” slogan.
Guidelines given on the website are to put phones on silent or out of sight in order to avoid the temptation of reading or responding to a text; avoid reading text messages even when stopped at a red light; and waiting to use a device until being safely and legally parked.
Technology companies such as Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T have similar programs, which have specific phone settings.
Once that setting is turned on, the phone will sense if you’re driving and have you hit an additional prompt before you can use the phone to do anything else.
It will also send a response to anyone texting you, stating you’ll respond as soon as you are safely able.
Already, Indiana law makes it illegal for a driver under 18 to text while driving and texting while driving is not allowed, but it can be difficult to enforce.
Republican state Rep. Holli Sullivan of Evansville authored the new law.
“Distracted driving kills and we need a cultural shift in order to save lives,” Sullivan said on March 11, after the bill moved to Gov. Holcomb’s desk. “Most of us are guilty of using our phones while driving and we all need to do a better job of putting our devices down and focusing on the road.”
Going hands-free will still be allowed for anyone with a Bluetooth connection and a dashboard phone mount. Drivers will also be able to hold a mobile device when their vehicle is stopped.
While enforcing the law might be hard at first, the overall goal is to save lives. The new law also states that motorists who are ticketed before July 1, 2020, for using a cellphone while driving will not receive any points on their license.
For more information on the law and local resources, visit: