There are a few behaviors that are universally agreed on as being extremely dangerous behind the wheel. Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, running red lights and stop signs, and following other vehicles too closely all significantly increase your risk of crashing and have been major factors for auto accidents for decades. But in recent years, a dangerous new epidemic is picking up speed: distracted driving.
Although there are many types of distracted driving, the overwhelming majority of distracted driving cases involve cellphone usage behind the wheel. Cellphones are uniquely dangerous as distractions because they involve all three types of distraction: manual—your hand is on your phone rather than the wheel; visual—your eyes are on your phone rather than the road; and cognitive—your mind is on the text or email rather than driving.
To combat the dangerous and growing epidemic of distracted driving, many states, including Indiana, have enacted bans on typing, sending, and reading both emails and text messages while driving. In Indiana, those acts were made illegal on July 1, 2011. Police and state troopers are always on the lookout for drivers who are looking at their phone while driving, and when caught, violators can face fines of up to $500.
And in July 2015, Indiana banned ALL cell phone usage for drivers under the age of 21. That includes hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth earpieces and vehicle connectivity. The only exception to the law is if drivers under 21 need to call 911. Young drivers are the most at-risk group for distracted driving crashes, and this law was designed to make them less likely to use their cell phones while they’re behind the wheel.
Governor Eric Holcomb’s State of the State Address in January 2020 called for a ban on all hand-held devices while driving in Indiana, and soon after, a bill doing just that swept through both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. As of this writing, the bill is headed to the governor’s desk, and a stroke of his pen will sign it into law. This new law would make it illegal to use or hold your phone will driving.
While it’s uncertain when the new law would take effect, it’s important to be prepared for additional scrutiny and fines for potential distracted driving-related behaviors. That means that in addition to not texting, using social media, playing games, or browsing the internet while driving, you also should stop making or taking phone calls unless you’re wearing a hands-free headset or using that the hands-free feature in your vehicle’s Bluetooth audio system.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people died as a result of distracted driving-related crashes in 2017 alone. That number is expected to grow each year, as more and more people use their phones or infotainment systems behind the wheel. It takes the average person around five seconds to send or read a text. If they’re traveling at 55 mph, they will cover the length of an entire football field in that time—all without looking at or paying attention to the road.
All drivers are at risk of distracted driving crashes, and all it takes is using your phone one time to distract you enough to cause a crash. Teens are especially vulnerable, and nearly 10% of all teen auto accident-related fatalities were the result of distracted driving. Stricter laws and increased enforcement can help protect not only drivers who have had their licenses for years, but also new drivers who may not understand the dangers of cell phone usage behind the wheel.
Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin wants to make it easier for drivers to make the switch to hands-free. When you agree to put down the phone while driving and take the Drop the Distraction Pledge on our website, you will be entered to win a free hands-free phone mount so you can continue to access features like calling and GPS without needing to take a hand off the wheel to hold your phone.
When negligent drivers cause accidents that injure innocent victims, they should be accountable for the damages those people incur. At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, it’s our goal to get victims maximum compensation after crashes that weren’t their fault.
If you or someone you love was injured by a distracted driver, we want to get you the money you deserve. The driver who caused the crash wasn’t following the law, and now you’re facing expensive medical bills and lost wages. You shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for a crash that wasn’t your fault. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re here to help.
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The financial burden that often comes with a serious injury can be too much for many people to bear. Unexpected medical debt, damaged personal property, and the sudden loss of income can impact the budgets of most families. The good news is that a successful injury claim could help reduce that financial strain after a serious accident. Get in touch with a Terre Haute personal injury lawyer with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin to learn more.
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