Current Indiana and Illinois Laws on Distracted Driving: Dangerous But Not Against the Law (yet)


Current Indiana and Illinois Laws on Distracted Driving: Dangerous But Not Against the Law (yet)

Distracting Driving Laws in Indiana and Illinois

Illinois

  1. All drivers are banned from using their cell phones as hand-held. Hands free is still allowed except for novice drivers.
  2. Learner’s permit holders and drivers under the age of 19 years (novice drivers) are not allowed to use their phones at all (hands held or hands free).
  3. School bus drivers are not allowed to use their cell phones at all.
  4. All drivers are not to text while driving.
  5. No use of cellphones by any driver in a school zone or a construction zone.
  6. Primary enforcement for all offenses.

Indiana

  1. There is no ban for hand-held cell phones or hands free phones for drivers unless they are new to driving.
  2. Drivers under the age of 18 years (novice drivers) are not to use phones at all (hand-held or hands free).
  3. No drivers are to text while driving.
  4. Primary enforcement for all offenses.

Police in Indiana Aren’t Ticketing for Distracted Driving?

This summer the Indiana State Police released data from 2013 and the news wasn’t good: it appears that law enforcement is not ticketing many with violations of the Indiana distracted driving laws. Reports are that police find the laws difficult to enforce as written.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, many more tickets have been issued for using phones while driving (over 6700 in Illinois compared to 186 tickets issued by Indiana during the same time period).

What’s going on? In Indiana, it’s illegal to TEXT while driving but it’s okay to use other kinds of apps — like Facebook or Google Maps — even though that is distracting to the driver as well.

 

Dangers of Distracted Driving

From Distraction.gov:

  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
  • At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (NOPUS)
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. (UMTRI)

Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving Are a Real Danger Here

The Facebook-related distracting driving case out of North Dakota (see our previous post) has resulted in a 20-year-old facing murder charges as a result of a fatal traffic accident where she was checking Facebook photos on her phone while driving at a high speed (85 mph).

In Indiana, it would not be illegal for a 20 year old to be driving along and checking Facebook photos on her phone.  (It is against the law in Illinois.)

This doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous and that distracted driving may well be the cause of serious accidents and traffic fatalities in our part of the country.

Please consider NOT using your phone while driving regardless of the legalities: it’s just too dangerous.

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