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Realities of distracted driving

For many decades now, Indiana residents have seen the strength of public awareness campaigns educating people about the dangers of drunk driving. While still too many people continue to drink and drive, there should be no doubt that people by and large know this is a dangerous practice. In recent years, however, a new risk has been becoming more prevalent that does not yet have the same strength behind it that drunk driving does. This is none other than distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 390,000 people in the United States were hurt in distracted-driving accidents in 2015 alone. That same year, another 3,477 people were killed in crashes in which drivers were distracted in some fashion.

The Indiana Department of Labor explains that the state's law has banned texting when behind the wheel since the summer of 2011. Financial penalties can be applied to any driver found breaking this law. Texting is a primary concern because it takes a driver's eyes, hands and cognitive functioning away from the act of driving all at the same time.

Research has shown that a driver's reaction time is cut by as much as 30 percent when distracted by cellphones. People who are texting when driving are also found to be moving out of their lanes 10 percent of the time, more than enough time to cause an accident. To that point, texting drivers have a 23 percent greater chance of getting into a crash than drivers who are not texting but instead focusing on driving.


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