Fatal accident again highlights problem of distracted driving

Chances are you see someone using their cellphone while driving at least once a day.  A “tougher” law has been in effect for a year and a half, yet police have issued less than 200 tickets.

The woman who crashed into an ambulance, causing the death of two EMTs admits she was distracted at the time.  She used a GPS on her phone to navigate the city.  Police said trying to enforce the law is much more difficult than it would appear.

“People need to learn to live without their cell phones,” said Joel Crawford.

Joel said he has seen his share of close calls.

“A lot of people can hardly drive as it is, let alone, being on their cellphone at the same time,” said Crawford.

Distracted driving was at least one of the factors in that deadly crash Feb. 16, 2013.  IEMS members Timothy McCormick and Cody Medley died, their ambulance was smashed into by a driver who ran a red light.

“The ambulance rolled and slid down about half of a block into the back of a parked car,” said Linda Jackson with IMPD.

Jade Hammer was behind the wheel, she told police she was looking at the GPS on her phone.

Laws, making it illegal to text and drive, passed in 2011.  During the first year of the law, Indiana State Police issued 150 warnings and 171 tickets.  Members of ISP said that number could have easily been larger.

“A lot of times we are going to cite somebody for another violation, but the texting while driving possibly caused that violation,” said Indiana State Police Sergeant Rich Myers.

The penalty for texting while driving is a $500 fine.  It does NOT include hands-free devices or voice-activated texting.  Indiana State Police Sergeant Rich Myers said that makes the law more difficult to enforce.

“There is stuff that is vying for your attention at all times, trying to get you to buy this, or to see this, let alone what you are supposed to be paying attention to,” said Myers.

Myers said sadly it often takes a tragedy, like the one that happened at Senate and St. Clair, to bring about change