Throughout 2021, Indiana continued to crack down on distracted driving with new laws specifically against cellphone usage while behind the wheel.
The good news is that distracted driving crashes decreased in 2020 to 8,761 crashes down from 10,132 in 2019. Law enforcement isn’t certain yet whether that’s due to new laws or whether the coronavirus pandemic and fewer drivers being on the road was the reason for lower crashes.
While we won’t fully know the reason for these lower crash statistics until 2021 statistics are available, Indiana is taking the cellphone ban seriously. From July 1 to December 31, 2020, law enforcement issued 1,899 citations and 5,088 warnings for violating the cellphone ban.
Learn more about the state’s cellphone ban, other examples of distracted driving, and ways to avoid accidents with distracted drivers.
Indiana’s New Cellphone Use Ban
This year was the first full year of Indiana’s cellphone ban to combat distracted driving. The law took effect in July 2020 with fines of up to $500 for offenders. But the law waited to enact punishing violators with points against their license or a license suspension until July 2021.
Now violators will face four points against their license for every offense. And at 20 points within a two-year period, law enforcement will suspend your license.
The law is fairly simple yet inclusive of banning all handheld cellphone usage other than holding a phone to call 911. That means that any phone calls you make while behind the wheel must be through hands-free voice commands or Bluetooth connectivity.
Indiana’s laws are not just about texting and driving. Law enforcement could ticket you for reading or responding to an email, engaging with a mobile application, or holding your phone to dial a phone number.
Examples of Distracted Driving
While using a cellphone while driving is one of the most common examples people give of distracted driving, there are plenty of other situations that also qualify as distracted driving. This includes the following:
- Eating while driving
- Adjusting the radio or other vehicle settings
- Grooming yourself, such as applying makeup or brushing your hair
- Watching videos
- Using a GPS that requires manual adjustments (no voice commands)
- Talking to passengers
- Reading a book
Any activity that takes your eyes off the road and your mind away from attending to your surroundings could be distracted driving.
How to Avoid Accidents with Distracted Drivers
The more alert you are while behind the wheel, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding a collision. Eliminate all distractions from your vehicle when you are behind the wheel for your best chance at avoiding a collision.
If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver and you sustain injuries, you should carefully document the accident and your medical care in case you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
To win a car accident lawsuit, you’ll need to prove that the other driver was negligent in their vehicle operations. Distracted driving is a form of negligence and will help you prove that the other driver was not looking out for your safety as they should have been.
After an accident, try to take photos of the other driver’s phone, take-out food bags, or other signs of distraction to further prove your case. Distracted driving isn’t always apparent at an accident scene, but if it is, it’s in your best interest to document it.
You should also tell law enforcement about what you saw leading up to the accident, such as if you observed the other driver not paying attention to the road. That way, the officer can investigate and add it to the police report if he or she finds it relevant in the accident.
If you’ve been injured in an Indiana car accident and suspect the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident, contact Stewart & Stewart as soon as possible. We’ll help you evaluate the case circumstances and determine negligence in the case.