INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana drivers you can say “Goodbye” to holding your cell phones behind the wheel. In one week, using one in your hand while driving will be against the law.
“Drivers that are paying more attention to their electronic devices almost have the same similarities of what a possible intoxicated driver would display,” details Senior Trooper Nick Klingkammer with the Indiana State Police.
Governor Eric Holcomb signed new legislation in early March banning all cell phone use while driving. Emergency calls behind the wheel are still allowed. Previous laws became difficult for law enforcement to enforce as the legislation had various loopholes.
“The officer, the deputy, the state trooper would actually have to see the phone with the text screen up, and messages being read, to enforce that,” explains Senior Trooper Klingkammer.
Before the law goes into effect, drivers have been allowed to operate their GPS applications on their phone while driving. Moving forward, drivers will have to utilize Bluetooth capabilities in their vehicles or find another means of driving hands-free. For people without Bluetooth in their vehicle, a pair of headphones with a microphone will do, as long as only one ear of the headset is used while driving.
Law enforcement is always amazed by what they see while out on patrol.
“If I recall correctly it was speeding,” starts Senior Trooper Klingkammer, “When I walked up to the vehicle, he had his phone on his dashboard blocking his speedometer and such while watching a TV show.”
The Indiana Department of Transportation says states that have adopted similar rules have seen a 20% drop in crash rates over the first few years.
“If you do need to make phone call for any reason, we ask that you pull off in a safe place on the interstate,” details Mallory Duncan with INDOT, “You cannot pull off onto the shoulder unless it’s an emergency.”
An adjustment period is expected as drivers begin to adhere to the new rules. Senior Trooper Klingkammer says each situation will be judged on a case-by-case basis.