Flaky Laws Fail to Reduce Risks of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Indiana

In the state of Indiana, all drivers who are over the age of 18 are allowed to use hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, every single driver is prohibited from texting behind the wheel. With such relaxed cell phone laws for drivers, distraction-related car accidents in Indianapolis continue to take the lives of far too many innocent people.
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How do law enforcement officers know what a driver is doing on their phone? Are they dialing a phone number? Replying to an email? Typing a text message? According to Indiana police officers, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference and for this reason, tickets are difficult to write.

Our Indiana car accident attorneys understand that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is working to get lawmakers to embrace a nationwide ban against the use of any portable electronic device by all drivers. This type of ban would help eliminate the confusion for officers in areas like Indiana that have varying text and cell phone laws for drivers.

Since Indiana officers decided to tighten their distracted driving-related laws and make it illegal for any driver to type at the wheel there’s hasn’t been a lot of drivers busted for texting, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. In the six months following the enactment of the law, the Purdue University Police Department hasn’t issued a single ticket, says Capt. Eric Chin.

The same results have been reported by the West Lafayette Police Department.

“Quite frankly, the same movements required to do other things — calling someone, checking a map — are similar to texting,” Lt. Gary Sparger told the newspaper. “Basically we have to see into the vehicle.”

The law was passed as a part of HB 1129 and took effect last July. If busted, drivers can face fines up to $500. But officers are having a tough time pushing this law because law enforcement isn’t allowed to take a driver’s cell phone to determine is the driver was dialing a phone number of sending a message.

Only one ticket has been written since July in Tippecanoe County.

Sparger says that if officers are going to enforce a text message ban, then the laws need to prohibit drivers from using any type of cell phone or electronic device. Officials need to repeal the current law or rewrite it completely to make all of these activities illegal.

According to CNN, the nationwide ban on portable electronic devices for drivers is a long way from reality. Experts believe elected legislators will be hesitant about upsetting constituents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 people were killed in distraction-related car accidents in the U.S. in 2010. While most people recognize that distractions are dangerous for drivers and cause thousands of fatal accidents every year, drivers just aren’t ready to hang up the phone.

If you or someone in your family has been injured in a distraction-related car accident in Indiana, call Burton Padove for a free consultation to learn about how to ensure receipt for financial compensation for injuries you or your family members sustain at 219-836-2200 or 877-446-5294 for nationwide callers.

Additional Resources:

It’s the L-A-W … but is the texting ban enforceable?, by Sophia Voravong, Lafayette Journal & Courier
Is 2012 the year to hang up the phone?, by Bob Greene, CNN
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