TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Indiana is joining 24 other states in enforcing a hands free driving law. Starting on Wednesday, July 1st, it will be against the law for all drivers to have a phone in their hand while driving.
"It's a great safety issue," said State Senator Ron Alting.
The issue of drivers distracted by their cell phones in Indiana. The new hands-free driving law in Indiana means no phone calls, texting or any other activities on your phone if it's in your hand.
"It's probably the number one kitchen table topic that my constituents stop me in public and say we've got to do this," said Sen. Alting, who supported this bill at the Indiana Statehouse.
It had bi-partisan support from local leaders. Democrats Sheila Klinker and Chris Campbell along with other Republicans like Sharon Negele, Don Lehe and Brian Buchanan also supported it.
"In Indiana alone in 2019 we had we had about 800, close to 900 accidents that were related to cell phone use and unfortunately we had about 50 deaths," said Sen. Alting. That's according to State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.
Sen. Alting added this new law will give judges more clarity on ruling and power to subpoena a cell phone in the event of a fatal or serious accident, where distracted driving is a suspect cause.
It's something police officers across the state, like Indiana State Trooper Stephen Grayson, are familiar with.
"We're out here all the time and we see these crashes and that's basically what the law is implemented for: to reduce crashes and reduce fatalities on Indiana roadways," he said.
Trooper Grayson said this new law takes the ambiguity out of the previous law, which only banned texting while driving specifically.
"Before you could be using your music or looking at an email and none of that was directly stated in the previous law," he said.
You can still use your phone in your hand if you are calling 911 in an emergency. And you can still use your device as long as it's hooked up to your car's blue tooth, or if it is in a phone stand that can attach to your dashboard or windshield.
Trooper Grayson said they are encouraging people to pull over to the side of the road if they have to make a call or send a text. He said this will be an adjustment for all drivers. Even police officers are not exempt from this new law. He said if anyone sees an officer violating a rule of the road, they can report it to the respective department.
Sen. Alting said he remembers the push back when mandatory seat belts became law here in Indiana. He said this law is similar in prioritizing the safety of drivers and passengers.
"There will be some push back and discomfort and what have you at the beginning, but I think give it 12 months and it will be as common as fastening your seat belt," he said.
"We definitely believe in it and think that it's something we can all do and improve on to save lives in Indiana," said Trooper Grayson.
ISP said it will be up to the discretion of the officer if a warning or a ticket should be given to a driver caught breaking this law, and it could also come with up to $500 in fines.