April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

April 1st started a nationwide awareness of distracted driving. Connect2disconnect is a national program that many local Indiana law enforcement agencies participated in on April 7, 2022. Agencies were patrolling and particularly paying attention to drivers holding their phones.

In 2020 a hands-free law was enacted in Indiana that made it illegal to hold your phone while driving. That means not only texting but talking or even looking for directions. According to local radio stations, WWBL is increasing its implementation and patrolling on distracted driving specifically seeking individuals that may be on their hand-held devices.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving incidents in 2020. In Indiana alone, 6,000 citations were issued last year. That only takes into account the ones who were caught on their devices.

Since it's distracted driving awareness month, we think it is important to share some tips for driving hands-free:

  • Have a hands-free phone mount in your vehicle
  • Have hands-free mode enabled on your device
  • Use voice dialing if you must make a call

Remember, the best thing to do when driving is to not be distracted by anything. This includes your phone, the radio, doing your makeup, eating, or even drinking. Although it seems like we should be able to take a drink while driving, believe it or not, you may move your eyes from the roadway for a few seconds, and there is a lot that can happen in those few seconds.

A good rule of thumb is to take your time while traveling. Make sure that you are keeping your focus on the roadway and keeping yourself and any passengers safe.

Below are some additional safety tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Avoid using your cell phone unless in an emergency situation.
  • Do not drive while tired. If you do become tired, pull off the roadway to get some rest.
  • Limit having animals in the vehicle as it can cause a distraction with them moving around the vehicle.
  • Avoid being distracted by a crash along the roadway. “Rubbernecking” can cause you to take your eyes from the road in front of you, thus causing another accident.
  • Adjust mirrors and GPS settings prior to beginning your trip.

When reviewing statistics, it's important to note that younger drivers seem to contribute to a higher number of distracted driving accidents.

In Indiana, new drivers have a specific set of rules they must follow 180 days after obtaining their probationary driver’s license for applicants that are younger than 21 years of age:

  • They may not use any type of telecommunication device while driving unless they are making an emergency 911 call.
  • They may not drive between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM.
  • You may not have a passenger in your vehicle unless the passenger has a valid driver’s license and is at least 25 years of age.
  • They will not be eligible for any Court diversion programs.

Once they surpass the 180 days mark, they are not allowed to drive during the following hours:

  • Saturday and Sunday, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Sunday through Thursday, after 11 p.m.
  • Monday through Friday, before 5 a.m.

The goal of enacting these restrictions was to allow the new driver time to get accustomed to the roadways and to assist in providing fewer distractions while beginning to drive on their own. The hope is that the probation period will help young drivers understand how important it is to pay attention to the roadways.

If you are new to driving or have had your license for several years odds are at some point you have been a distracted driver. Waiting to respond to a text or call may very well save your life or someone else’s. Join in on the awareness of distracted driving this April!

If you have been involved in a distracted driving accident, call Tabor Law Firm for a free consultation at (317) 689-0077.
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