Distracted driving doesn’t only affect you. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed 2,841 people in 2018. That breaks down to:
- 1,730 drivers
- 605 passengers
- 400 pedestrians
- 77 bicyclists
These numbers show that when you drive distracted, you’re putting not just yourself but those around you at risk. , whether those are your passengers or others who just happen to be on the road.
Driving while using a cell phone isn’t just dangerous – in the state of Indiana it will soon be illegal. As of July 1, 2020, the new “Hands Free” law will go into effect across the state. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed this new legislation into law in hopes of cutting down accidents caused by distracted driving. Indiana will now join the 21 other states where it is already illegal to drive while holding or using a cell phone. Punishment for breaking the law includes up to a $500 fine and a potential loss of license.
While it is okay to hold a cell phone while at a complete stop, drivers must not hold their phone for any reason while driving. It is permissible to use if the phone is in hands-free mode or on the dashboard. If you are using a cellphone while operating a vehicle and get into a car accident, it’s likely you could be put partially at fault.
Distracted Driving Affects Everyone
Teenagers seem to be at an increased risk for using cell phones when driving. One in three teenagers have admitted to using their phone while driving, and texting while driving increases their risk of being in a car accident by 23 times.
But teens aren’t the only ones guilty of distracted driving. Many adults use their phones while driving and try to justify it with years of experience driving. Just because you may have been driving for more years than a teenager doesn’t protect you from the dangers of distracted driving.
If you choose to reply to a text, you’re more focused on typing out your message than paying attention to the road. Taking your eyes off the road even for a second puts yourself at risk for an automobile accident.
After an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver
Unfortunately you can’t force other drivers to make good choices about texting and driving. If you were in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you can file a claim with their insurance to recover damages for your injuries. After the accident occurs, you should:
- Call the police so they can file a police report
- Take pictures of the scene, including the damage to your car
- Ask eyewitnesses for their contact information so they can provide testimony for your case
This evidence will support the claim that the other driver was at fault for distracted driving, and will protect you in case of a he-said-she-said situation.
Dash cam footage can also show how the other driver is at fault. If your dash cam captured the other driver using a cell phone at the time of the accident, you have irrefutable video evidence of their distracted driving. Unlike eyewitness testimonies, video evidence won’t change over time and can be viewed repeatedly. It’s difficult for an insurance company to downplay video evidence showing exactly how the accident happened.
At the end of the day, it’s best to eliminate as many distractions as possible while you’re behind the wheel. Phone calls and texts can wait until you’re safely at your destination. Newer phones often offer a “Do Not Disturb” feature. If the temptation to answer your phone is too great, you can put your phone in this mode and you will not receive notifications, texts, or calls until you have safely arrived at your destination.
Help from an Indiana Car Accident Attorney
Your full attention needs to be on the road to protect your own life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of people sharing the road. If you were injured in an Indiana car accident caused by a distracted driver, you are able to file a claim against them to recoup your losses including property damage and medical bills.