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Hands-Free Indiana

Indiana Is Hands-Free

July 1, 2020 marked a new day for Hoosiers. The state enacted the hands-free law. Indiana law prohibits drivers from 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. In 15 states with hands-free laws, traffic fatalities have decreased by an average of 16 percent [Source: National Safety Council and Insurance Federation based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data].

  • 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).

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