Taking a leisurely drive down a scenic street lined with fall-colored trees or freshly fallen snow can be relaxing, helping to relieve daily stress or problems. Yet, there are potential pitfalls caused by weather changes, roadway hazards, traffic jams, and other distracted drivers. In fact, distracted driving is one of the most common causes for auto accidents across the United States.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
In 2012, according to The US Department of Transportation, a distracted driver texting was 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. Texting and driving is the cause of more than 3,300 deaths and over 421,000 injuries.
Beyond cell phone use, distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. During the holidays, increased traffic or busy schedules pose even greater threats.
We all know how busy the holidays are: picking up last-minute gifts, traveling across the country to visit family and friends, running late, sending text messages, and talking on the phone while running errands. All of these distracting activities can lead to auto accidents in Indianapolis, IN.
Distracted driving is more prevalent during the holidays because of increased travel and busy schedules. Holiday activities increase stress levels and fatigue, particularly in drivers. Reading maps, personal grooming, adjusting the radio or GPS program, eating or drinking, smoking, watching a video, talking to passengers in your car, or using a cell phone distracts from the task of driving.
What Are the Texting and Driving Laws in Indianapolis, Indiana?
During the day, approximately 660,000 drivers use cell phones while driving. Teens are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of an accident or fatal crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety reports handheld cell phone use is highest among 16 to 24-year-old drivers.
The Indiana state law concerning texting and driving took effect in 2011. While not as tough as some other states, the law does stipulate higher fines and imposes restrictions on the use of other electronic devices while driving, in addition to cell phones.
Indiana does not have a hand-held ban for all drivers, just a ban for all drivers from texting messages. This means, if you are 18 or older, you can use a hands-free cell phone while driving.
The Indiana law prohibits drivers under 18 from talking on their cell phones, composing and sending text messages while driving, or being on a hands-free device. They cannot legally use any electronic device when behind the wheel.
Who is Considered Liable for a Distracted Driving Car Accident in Indiana?
Indianapolis, Indiana uses the “Modified Comparative Negligence” rule. If you are 51% or more at fault for a distracted driver auto accident, you cannot recover compensation for your damages.
However, if you are less than 51% at fault, you can get compensation for damages with your percentage of fault deducted from the value of the total damages. Say you have $1000 in damages and you are 30% at fault, this means you can recover 70% of your damages, or $700.
Indianapolis drivers are also required to carry liability insurance on their auto policies because Indiana is an at-fault state. The minimum coverage required is $25,000 for death or injury per person, $50,000 for injury or death per accident, and $10,000 property damage per accident.
If you have been in an accident caused by distracted driver, you must file a claim as soon as possible. An Indiana driver’s statute of limitation on filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the accident, injury, or death of an accident victim.
What Can I Do to Help Prevent Distracted Driving in Indiana?
- Pull over and park in a safe location if a call or text is absolutely necessary
- Change your voicemail greeting to inform callers you are on the road and will return their call when you can do so safely.
- Install an app that blocks text messages, phone calls, and other alerts when driving,
- Prepare for driving. Review maps, adjust your radio, eat, and make any phone called needed before you drive.
Families can educate members, especially teens, on preventative measures to take prior to driving to prevent distractions, especially during the busy holiday season. Use examples showing your teen how distracted driving is a challenge for you, too. Make it a family problem that needs solving.
You could even enroll your teenager in a defensive driving course to teach them strong safety techniques and good driving habits. By doing so, you may also qualify for an insurance discount.
Consult with a Car Accident Attorney in Indianapolis, Indiana
If you or a loved one becomes a victim of a distracted driving car accident during the holidays, reach out to Rowe & Hamilton for a confidential, free initial consultation.