Distracted driving while waiting at stop lights
So much has been written about the risks of distracted driving and the numbers of accidents caused by typing, sending and reading on electronic devices. Indiana Legislators have addressed texting, emailing and reading while driving in Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. The language used in the statute makes clear that texting, emailing and reading of the same applies to a “moving vehicle” only. It reads in part as follows:
Sec. 59. (a) A person may not use a telecommunications device to:
(1) type a text message or an electronic mail message;
(2) transmit a text message or an electronic mail message; or
(3) read a text message or an electronic mail message;
while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.
By omission in statute, it is clearly legal at this time to text, send or read an email or text from a telecommunications device if you are not operating a “moving motor vehicle”, the keyword here being “moving.”
*Not from Indiana? Find out where your State stands on distracted driving.
In an article written by David MacAnally and published at wthr.com, Dr. Fred Mannering, a traffic expert at Purdue University, believes that “red light texters may be sparking problems, including road rage.” When a red light texter delays or entirely misses a green light, drivers in cars backed up in the queue can become explosive…enraged. Mr. Mannering goes on to say that a gap in traffic that is greater than 2 ½ to 3 seconds will cause detectors (in the pavement) to shut off the green to that signal.
Can an officer of the law confiscate the driver’s device to determine compliance with the law?
Section 59. (b) of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59 adds:
(b) A police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.
As added by P.L.185-2011, SEC.4.
Since the law took effect on July 1, 2011, very few tickets have been written for violation of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. Unless a driver admits to having broken the law, it would be difficult to prove as access to the phone by law enforcement is denied without a Court Order. Whiteland Town Marshal Rick Shipp told 24-hour News 8 partner, The Daily Journal, that police departments can get cellphone records only by court order and wouldn’t have the time to do so during a typical traffic stop.
So while the law as written has made it difficult to enforce, it has brought the issue of texting and driving to the forefront. Most drivers are aware of the dangers inherent in distracted driving. Many will wait until they have arrived at their destination or at the very least until they are stopped in traffic. But the best solution would be to wear a Bluetooth device compatible with your cell phone, become comfortable using the device and routinely sync it with your cell phone before leaving home.
Attorneys experienced in litigation of texting and driving crashes
The law firm of Ward & Ward is experienced in personal injury laws that may govern your financial recovery as a party injured by a negligent driver. If you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligent behavior, contact the law firm of Ward & Ward for a free analysis.