INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Drivers will be banned from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads starting in July under legislation Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed into law to combat distracted driving.
Holcomb signed the measure Wednesday, making Indiana the 22nd state to prohibit drivers from holding or using a handheld mobile device while operating a moving vehicle. People violating the law after it takes effect on July 1 can be fined up to $500 and potentially lose their driver's license if violations are repeated.
"Distracted driving increases the risk of a crash by more than 3½ times and is a leading killer of teenagers in America. This is unacceptable and avoidable," Holcomb said.
Texting while driving is currently banned in Indiana, but law enforcement has found it difficult to enforce.
Once the new law takes effect, touching a phone to, for example, check the weather or look at a photo while driving will be banned. The new measure specifies, however, that it will be legal for drivers to use phones if they’re mounted on a vehicle's dashboard or in hands-free mode.
Drivers will be able to hold and use a mobile device when their vehicle is stopped.
Many survivors of distracted driving collisions, law enforcement officials, healthcare providers, and car company representatives testified in House and Senate hearings in favor of the legislation's passage.
Republican state Rep. Holli Sullivan of Evansville, who authored the new law, said she hopes police issue written warnings for about a year to educate drivers before issuing citations.
"Distracted driving kills, and we need a cultural shift in order to save lives," Sullivan said earlier this month. “Most of us are guilty of using our phones while driving, and we all need to do a better job of putting our devices down and focusing on the road.”
One provision of the law states that motorists who are ticketed before July 1, 2021 for using a cellphone while driving will not receive points on their license, which can lead to license suspension.