Distracted driving has become a leading cause of vehicle crashes on the road. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 38,824 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2020. Of those, approximately 8 percent (3,142) were caused by a distracted driver.
With traffic fatalities on the rise in Indiana and April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, state and local officials are urging motorists to put down the phone and drive distraction-free to prevent crashes and save lives.
Distracted driving is considered any activity that diverts attention away from safely operating a vehicle. It can be visual, manual or cognitive and includes everything from eating to listening to loud music to more recent trends like “vlogging” or video blogging.
While all forms are considered dangerous, texting continues to be the most prevalent, especially among millennials and Gen Z. Research from NHTSA shows that young drivers, ages 16 to 24, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.
Indiana took aim at distracted driving in 2020 when it passed the hands-free device driving law, which prohibits the use of holding a mobile device while driving. Since then, law enforcement agencies have been working overtime to educate motorists about the law, issuing more than 6,000 hands-free citations and almost twice as many warnings last year alone.
To expand awareness, police agencies in Indiana will once again be joining thousands across the nation for a one-day enforcement campaign to combat texting and other forms of distracted driving. On April 7, motorists can expect to see increased roving and high-visibility patrols with officers on high alert for hands-free violations.
The Connect 2 Disconnect campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. Violators of the hands-free law could face a Class C infraction with fines up to $500 and have points added to their license.