Indiana Goes Hands-Free July 1
Beginning July 1, 2020, Indiana law will prohibit drivers holding mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in their hands while driving to reduce distracted driving and improve safety on Hoosier roadways.
The Back Story
Indiana has had a do not text while driving law since 2011, but it has been found to be unenforceable by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals because it’s too narrowly tailored. However, by restricting the use of telecommunication devices while driving (unless used in conjunction with a hands-free or voice operated option) would create an easy, clear-cut and enforceable law.
The effort to make Indiana’s roads safer was a key piece of Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s 2020 legislative agenda and was approved by the Indiana General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. Governor Holcomb signed the measure into law on March 18, 2020.
Statistics Behind the Law
Across the U.S., serious traffic crashes and fatalities have sharply increased in recent years due in large part to distracted driving. Requiring drivers to put smartphones and other devices away and focus on driving is proven to reduce crashes and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that have passed hands free driving laws have seen a nearly 20 percent decrease in traffic deaths in the two years after passing the law.
Three independent studies found that crash risk was 2-6 times greater when drivers were manipulating a cellphone versus when they were not.
On average people that text and drive take their attention away from the road for five seconds at a time, increasing the chances of a serious crash substantially. At 55 miles per hour this is the equivalent of driving a full football field blindfolded.
Of the 15 states and the District of Columbia that had enacted these laws before 2018, 12 saw a decrease in their traffic fatality rates within two years after passing and enforcing their new laws and two states do not have available data (NHTSA).
Q&A: Following the Law and Consequences of Breaking It
Q: So, does this mean I cannot use my phone at all?
A: It means you cannot use your phone if it’s in your hand.
Q: How else can I use my phone if it’s not in my hand?
A: You can use your Bluetooth, headset or any other hands-free technology.
Q: Can I still use my phone maps while driving?
A: Yes, as long as you are still using your device hands-free.
Q: What are the consequences of breaking the law?
A: You will be subject to a fine.
Q: Will points be added to my record if I break the law?
A: Starting July 1, 2021 the Indiana BMV will begin adding points to records.