April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
(Franklin/Ripley Counties, Ind.) - With Distracted Driving Awareness Month underway, Franklin/Ripley Traffic Safety Partnership is joining law enforcement agencies across the state and nation for a one-day (24-hour) enforcement campaign called Connect 2 Disconnect. On April 8, officers will be conducting high-visibility patrols to remind motorists about the dangers and consequences of texting and distracted driving.
Connect 2 Disconnect is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“Everyone knows it’s dangerous to text and drive, yet we still see people on their phones behind the wheel every day,” said Sgt. Adam Henson. “Taking your eyes off the road, even if it’s just for a couple of seconds, could end in disaster. If we all do our part, we can put a stop to distracted driving and prevent these senseless tragedies from occurring.”
Distracted driving is considered any activity that diverts attention away from the task of driving and includes everything from adjusting the stereo to grooming to eating and drinking. Although all forms are considered dangerous, as they increase the risk of crashing, texting continues to be the most pervasive.
On average, people that text and drive take their attention away from the road for five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the full length of a football field blindfolded.
To help curb distracted driving, in 2020, Indiana became the 22nd state in the nation to pass a hands-free device driving law, which prohibits motorists from holding a mobile device, except in emergencies, while their vehicles are moving. Anyone caught violating the law could face a Class C infraction with fines up to $500.
Since the law went into effect last July, more than 2,918 citations and 7,352 warnings have been issued statewide as of March 31, according to the criminal justice institute.
“We’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “We need more people to understand that distracted driving kills and is something we can all live without. Sending or reading a text isn’t worth causing a crash or taking someone’s life.”
Distracted driving crashes are completely preventable. To save lives, the department wants to encourage motorists to put away their phones and to always pay attention to the road.
Drivers can activate their phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature or place it in their glove box, center console or back seat until they reach their destination. They can also designate a passenger to be their “designated texter” by allowing them to access their phone.
For more information on distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov, or for more information about Indiana’s hands-free device driving law, visit HandsFreeIndiana.com.