Distracted Driving Laws in Indiana
Distracted driving in Indiana pertains to any activity or behavior that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of operating a motor vehicle. Driving distractions may be the result of cell phone use, fatigue or the preoccupation with other tasks, such as tuning the radio, grooming, eating a sandwich or smoking. To prevent distracted driving accidents, the state enacted its first cell phone-related law in 2011. Under this law, motorists are prohibited from reading and writing text messages while sitting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
According to recent distracted driving facts shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 individuals were killed by a preoccupied motorist in 2016. In 2015, 391,000 individuals sustained an injury that was caused by a distracted driver. However, motorists can reduce instances of cell phone-related accidents and fatalities by putting their phones down and keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. To learn more about the driving laws in Indiana, review the information below.
What is distracted driving in Indiana?
Many driving distractions in Indiana pertain to reading, writing and sending text or email messages from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Additionally, talking on the phone or holding an electronic device in one hand can distract drivers and divert their attention away from the road ahead. However, many other types of distractions do not involve the use of a cell phone. For instance, three types of driver distractions include the following:
- Manual distractions, such as eating, drinking, grooming, or programming a GPS system
- Cognitive distractions, such as driving while tired, fatigued, angry or upset
- Visual distractions, such as watching videos or staring off into space
According to local facts about distracted driving in IN, inattentive motorists caused 9,177 crashes during the 2014 year. Of this total number, 1,071 crashes were cellphone-related and six of them were fatal. When motorists combine all three types of distractions when driving a vehicle (manual, cognitive and visual), their reaction time worsens and their risk of getting into a traffic collision increases.
Since the act of texting and driving combines all three types of distractions, engaging in this type of activity increases a driver’s chances of causing an accident by 23 times. When drivers read or write text messages while operating a motor vehicle, their mind focuses elsewhere, one hand falls from the steering wheel and their eyes divert from the road ahead.
Distracted Driving Laws in Indiana for Handheld Devices
Current laws against distracted driving in IN do not pertain to handheld cell phone use. While the act of talking on the phone while driving can be distracting and oftentimes dangerous, it is not illegal in the state of Indiana. Moreover, drivers do not need to use a hands-free communication device if they wish to engage in a phone call while driving.
Texting and Driving Laws in Indiana
Under the IN texting and driving law of 2011, the act of reading, writing and responding to text messages or emails from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is illegal throughout the state.
Indiana Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Under the IN distracted driving law, motorists who are younger than 21 years of age are prohibited from using any type of wireless telecommunication device while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Generally, this law pertains to probationary driver’s license holders. As an exception, novice motorists may use a mobile device to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
Indiana Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
While the act of texting while driving in IN is prohibited amongst all motorists, commercial vehicle operators must also comply with laws under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Under the FMCSA, commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders are prohibited from using any type of handheld electronic device while operating a commercial vehicle. Under this cell phone distracted law, commercial vehicle drivers cannot hold a mobile device in their hand when the vehicle is in motion, and they may not begin or end a phone call unless they can do so by pressing a single button.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Indiana
If motorists violate the texting while driving laws in IN, then they may be subject to penalty fees of up to $500. Additionally, commercial vehicle operators who violate these laws may be subject to penalty fees of up to $2,750 and the possible disqualification of their driving credentials.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Indiana
To prevent texting and driving accidents, injuries and fatalities, the state of Indiana prohibits the act of sending and reading text messages while operating a motor vehicle. However, most drivers can still engage in other types of cell phone use while driving and distracting behaviors such as eating and drinking from behind the wheel of an automobile. Even though IN laws on texting and driving do not prohibit the use of handheld electronic devices amongst motorists, drivers can reduce their chances of causing an accident by:
- Purchasing a hands-free communication component such as an earpiece or headset.
- Pulling their vehicle over whenever they need to make or accept a phone call.
- Downloading a phone-silencing smartphone app such as It Can Wait, Lifesaver or On My Way (OMW).
- Pre-programming navigation systems before pulling the vehicle onto a public road.
- Eating or drinking before getting into the vehicle, to reduce the need for snacking on-the-go.