On July 1st of 2010, Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation (HEA 1129) that prohibits the use of any telecommunications device to type, transmit, or read text messages or email while operating a moving motor vehicle. However, drivers are permitted to use hands free or voice operated technology to perform these functions. Police will now be able to ticket a driver solely on the basis of texting while driving. Offenders could also face a fine of up to $500.
Here is the specific language of the new act:
A person may not use a telecommunications device to:
(1) Type a text message or an electronic mail message
(2) Transmit a text message or an electronic message; or
(3) Read a text message or an electronic mail message;
While operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency
Further, a police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.
“Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to be involved in a collision serious enough to cause injury,” said Ryan Klitzsch, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Traffic Safety Division Director. “This legislation is an important step in our efforts to ensure the safety of all Hoosier motorists.”
A new On Your Side® survey by Nationwide insurance has revealed another staggering statistic. Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
Researchers from the University of North Texas also did a study on the issue. The team attributed 16,141 deaths to texting and driving between 2002-2008. This doesn’t include the many thousands more who sustained life changing serious injuries.
Driver distractions accounted for more than 7,800 collisions on Indiana roadways in 2009. In fact, distracted driving crashes cost the state $257.5 million dollars in that year alone.
In summary, the law prohibits both reading and sending a text or email from your phone. However, you can still look at your phone or use it for other reasons. The law may be difficult to enforce, but seems like a good starting point for promoting safer cell phone use in vehicles.
Wilson Kehoe Winingham brings you this information with best regards for you and your family’s safety.
Sources: Associated Press, FOX 59, Nationwide Insurance On Your Side survey, University of North Texas Health Sciences Center.