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Indiana’s new Texting While Driving Law effective 7-1-2011

At least while driving, it’s time to return to the old days, those days before we had our fancy mobile communication devices. It is time to put our eyes back on the road where they belong. On July 1st Indiana’s new texting while driving law takes effect. It becomes illegal for any driver, except while using a totally hands free device on Indiana roads, to type, send or read a text or any other electronic mail message while operating a moving motor vehicle. The fine for doing so can be up to $500. Why the new law? Indiana drivers are four times more likely to be involved in an accident while texting.

 I want to blog about a couple of things in regard to the new Indiana law. First, how will the new law be enforced? By law, the officer is not allowed to confiscate (take and keep) the device. However, will the officer be allowed to look at the messaging area on the device? As we who text know, the device time stamps when any message is sent or received. If the officer is not allowed to check for the time stamp, how will the officer be able to actually prove someone is texting? If asked if they were texting, a driver could respond that they were only “looking down” and not texting. Not sure how this will work unless the officer is allowed to look for the time stamps.

 Second, what will an insurance company think about drivers who have a texting violation on their driving record? I think they will deem this as a fairly significant factor in client selection and classification (premium groupings) for coverage. Why? Think about this in comparison to a seat belt infraction. Insurance companies haven’t been critically looking at belt violators. The act of not wearing a seat belt will not, in itself, cause you to be in an accident which could do serious bodily injury and property damage to another person or property. This would not be the case for the distraction of texting where the chances of being involved in an accident, by the act of texting itself, increases by a factor of four. Texting while driving costs insurance companies lots of money – they will take this violation seriously.

 The bottom line is this: Texting and driving is a very bad idea. Can the law be enforced – I’m not sure. If you get busted – could you be jeopardizing lower insurance rates – I think you will be. Time for you and me to quit texting and driving and make all our traveling safer! DM


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