NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) – Law enforcement agencies across Indiana won’t just be watching for speeders, they’ll also be watching for drivers holding their phones.
Indiana’s new law preventing drivers from holding their cell phone starts today. Indiana state police say the new law can cut down on distractions and accidents.
“I’ve seen quite a few of them. I’ve even done, ‘Hey, put the phone down.’ because they get so distracted,” said James Rhoades of Newburgh.
“When we are out patrolling, we see a lot of people out with their cell phones,” adds Sgt. Todd Ringle of the Indiana State Police. He says he’s seen many drivers on their phones over the years, but enforcing the state’s old no texting while driving law was tough.
“There were too many things a person could do legally on their phone. For me, to stop somebody and cite them for texting and driving, I had to know for a fact that they were actually texting and that was extremely difficult,” he recalled.
The new law says anyone caught holding their phone while driving in Indiana can be fined up to $500, which makes it a Class C infraction. Ringle says it can potentially cut down on accidents like similar laws have in other states.
“The majority of those states have seen a reduction in traffic fatalities. Some of those reductions have been as high as 15%. That means if that holds true for Indiana, we could see as many as 130 fewer fatalities on our highways,” he said.
“I know as you get older, it really is a distraction. I don’t do it. I Bluetooth it through the radio, or don’t answer it,” adds Dan Odom of Newburgh.
Some drivers were cited on this first day, but Sgt. Ringle admits it will take a while for all drivers to know the law.
“We know it’s going to take quite some time to educate everyone. People have been using their phones and driving for many years. It’s going to take time.”
Sgt. Ringle adds people can still use hands free technology, or hold their phone if they’re calling 911 or if stopped at an intersection.
(This story was originally published on July 1, 2020)