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With the rapid insurgence of technology in today’s world, distracted driving has swelled into a national epidemic over the past decade. The use of cell phones among all drivers is at the heart of the issue.
Indiana’s recent ban on texting and driving [IC 9-21-8-59] stipulates that a person may not use a telecommunications device to: type, text, transmit, or read an electronic message while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used as hands-free or voice operated technology, or for emergency purposes.
Yet how many times in the last week did you use your cell phone to make a call, or send/read a text message while driving?
How many times in the last week did you engage in other distractions while driving such as eating, changing the radio station, or putting on make-up?
Unfortunately, these distractions and others are leading to traffic fatalities that could otherwise be avoided. Cell phone use and texting are two of the most prevalent and dangerous examples of distracted driving.
Texting while driving involves three types of distraction.
As the state administrating agency of Federal Highway Safety funds, the Traffic Safety division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is charged with developing and implementing programming aimed at reducing the number of traffic injuries and fatalities that occur on Indiana roadways as a result of dangerous driving behaviors, like texting while driving.
In 2012, there were 6,206 distracted driving crashes in Indiana [note: this includes the use of a cell phone and driver distraction as the primary factor]. During the same year, there were 6 fatalities and 109 incapacitating injuries in Indiana as a result of distracted driving.
Additionally, in 2012, there were 393 collisions that occurred in Indiana where the primary contributing factor was cell phone usage. This resulted in zero fatalities and 11 incapacitating injuries.
The next time you are pressed for time, and it seems like multitasking in the car is the best decision, remember those who have been injured or killed on the roadways because someone decided they could do two things at once.
Through awareness, education, and enforcement of Indiana’s ban on texting and driving, ICJI’s goal is to inspire positive behavioral changes behind the wheel that keep all drivers safe, and make the use of cell phones while driving socially unacceptable.
As we move forward with this lifesaving effort, ICJI asks Indiana drivers to put down their phones and concentrate on the road. Remember “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.”