New hands-free law takes effect Wednesday

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – The Indiana State Police would like to remind everyone of changes to Indiana’s distracted driving law taking effect this coming Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Every year in North America, an estimated 1.6 million crashes occur as the result of driver inattention. Many of those crashes result in injury or death and an economic impact of around 40 billion dollars.

Making a phone call while driving may increase your odds of being in a crash by as much as 400%. Typing or reading a text takes your eyes off the road an average of five seconds. If you drive 55 mph, you will travel the length of a football field in that same period.

Effective Wednesday, July 1, Indiana’s new hands-free driving law prohibits motorists from holding or using a cellphone while driving. However, drivers with both hands on the wheel can still become visually, manually, or cognitively distracted.

Common distractions that lead to motor vehicle crashes include:

Cellphone use (talking, texting, taking photos, etc.)
Eating or drinking
Talking to passengers
Grooming (applying makeup, brushing hair, flossing, etc.)
Using a PDA or navigation system (GPS)
Watching videos
Changing music (MP3 players, CDs, radio, etc.)

“Distracted driving creates real and often tragic consequences on our roadways, with cellphone usage being a primary distractor,” said Sgt. Brian Walker, public information officer for the Indiana State Police. “These crash scenes are often traumatic, deadly and life-changing events for thousands of Hoosier families each year. Worst of all, troopers know these crashes are completely preventable! Buckle up, put away the phone, and be responsible, focused and in control behind the wheel.”
Indiana Code 9-21-8-59, as amended, states a driver may not hold or use a telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle.

There are two exceptions listed in the new hands-free statute.

Drivers will still be permitted to hold and use their phone to make an emergency 911 call.
Drivers may also use hands-free or voice-operated technology to make and receive calls.
Drivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with their vehicle’s hands-free technology and may wish to research aftermarket products that facilitate its use, such as a phone mount.

For more information on impact of distracted driving, click here.