VIGO COUNTY, Ind – The Vigo County Sheriff’s Office is conducting highly-visible traffic patrols this April as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Police in most states may now write traffic tickets for texting while driving. In Indiana, it is illegal to type, transmit or read e-mail or text messages on a communication device while driving.
“This April and year-long, remember U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” said Sheriff Greg Ewing. “You could pay with a traffic fine, medical bills – or worse – the life of someone you love.”
In 2016, an estimated 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in traffic crashes involving distraction. These injuries and deaths are preventable.
Types of distraction
Distraction takes many forms and involves anything that takes your eyes, hands or focus from the road. Distracted driving includes eating, reading, grooming, applying makeup, watching videos or interacting with passengers. Pedestrians and cyclists can be distracted too.
Mobile devices and in-car electronics can now do more than ever – make calls, exchange text messages, provide navigation and entertain passengers – but this complexity takes our eyes off the road for longer. This on-the-go access also causes some to expect quick responses to phone calls and text messages.
Hands-free devices and car mounts are safer, but they still distract your eyes, hands or brain.
Sending or receiving one text message takes your eyes off the road a total of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Tips and advice
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute offers the following tips:
· Keep your eyes and concentration on the road and both hands on the wheel.
· Watch for distracted drivers and anticipate they may stop or change lanes suddenly.
· Set a good example and make a public pledge to avoid distractions on the road.
· Before leaving, remove all temptations to check notifications or answer calls. Turn off your smartphone, put it out of reach and/or enable Do Not Disturb features.
· Record a custom voicemail greeting that says you do not answer calls or return messages while on the road.
· Give a trusted passenger access to your phone, and ask him or her to be your “designated” texter, caller, navigator and DJ.
· If you must make or answer a call or text message while traveling, turn off the road at the first safe location.
· Wait to call or text someone you know is on the road.
· Speak up if the driver in your car is distracted.
· Share the statistics, dangers and your concerns with friends, family members and neighbors.
· Parents can sign a contract with their teen drivers defining rules and consequences.
· Employers may enact stronger policies involving company vehicles or company-issued smartphones.
Visit www.distraction.gov for more information and resources