In 2011, Indiana enacted distracted driving laws that prohibit all drivers from texting and people under eighteen from using a phone in the car, with the exception of an emergency.
But some teens may not be following the law. A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that Indiana suffered the highest increase of deaths for drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 (an increase of 13 deaths) from the first six months of 2012 compared to the first six months of 2011: higher than any other state. Police suspect it can be attributed to texting, according to a report from WRTV in Indianapolis.
Preventing Your Teen from Texting and Driving
The following are tips for talking to your teens about texting behind the wheel:
- Make sure your teen understands that you do not condone texting while driving and if you find out it happened, you will take away his or her driver’s license, keys, and car.
- If you catch your teen texting while driving in front of you, take over the driving. Show that consequences exist for poor judgment and follow through with punishment. Teens may think that another passenger acts as their eyes. Show them this is not the case.
- Set a good example. Don’t text, apply make-up, fiddle with gadgets, or conduct other distracting business while driving.
- Let your teen know that the phone bill shows all calls and texts including a timestamp, even if they delete them.
Also explain that not only is texting while driving dangerous, it’s against the law. The dangers of teens and distracted driving in relation to texting have been specifically addressed with Indiana’s Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) law, which, as the Indiana government website explains:
“… prohibits newly licensed drivers under the age of 18 from using telecommunications devices [e.g. cell phones to talk and text] while driving, with the exception of making emergency 911 calls.”
Why Texting and Driving is So Dangerous
Another tip to prevent your teen from texting while driving is simply explaining in detail why it is so dangerous. For example, texting while driving qualifies as distracted driving in three ways:
- Cognitively, meaning the mind is not on the task at hand
- Manually, meaning the hands are off the wheel
- Visually, meaning the eyes are off the road
Distraction.gov also provides a number of statistics and facts about texting while driving, including that the average time sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road is 4.6 seconds. This is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded at 55 miles per hour.
Help if Injured by a Distracted Driver
Meanwhile, if you or your teen is injured by another driver whose negligence – such as texting while driving – led to the accident, you have legal recourse against that driver to recover damages. For help after a car accident in Indiana with a distracted driver, call Hensley Legal Group for a free case review or contact us online.