EVANSVILLE (WEHT) – The COVID-19 pandemic did not keep all drivers off the road in 2020. Indiana’s traffic fatality rate went up. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety held a virtual conference outlining what needs to be done to make Hoosier roads safer this year. Each state was ranked by this group to show what laws are successful and what still needs to be done to keep people safe.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety want to decrease dangers and hazards. They say the numbers are disturbing. Even amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people took to the road and many became reckless.

“Unfortunately, instead of emptying our streets leading to safer streets, our roadways have become reckless race tracks. Speeding and impaired and distracted driving appear to have been more prevalent,” said Cathy Chase, the organization’s president.

Indiana State Troopers said that’s what they want to crack down on. The state of Indiana ranks in the green color for distracted driving, meaning laws are up to where Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety want them. One law passed last July was prohibiting people from holding their cell phones while driving.

“We see crashes almost every single day caused by distracted driving. But now we have a law we can go out and actually enforce,” said Sgt. Todd Ringle with Indiana State Police.

State troopers say if they can raise awareness on distracted driving…Crashes will decrease.
But Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ranked Indiana in the red, a poor grade on laws regarding drunk or impaired driving. Troopers said they noticed those driving under the influence leave a hefty dent in crash statistics across the state.

“We are seeing more and more drivers that are impaired, under the influence of marijuana. So it’s something we’re always concerned about- it’s about education. It’s a problem unfortunately that we will continue to see but we will go out and we will continue to go out and look for those impaired drivers,” Ringle said.

Troopers said it’s also up to drivers to do their part. Stop the distractions and don’t get behind the wheel if under the influence.

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(This story was originally published on January 11, 2021)