Using a handheld cellphone while driving is now illegal on Indiana roads under a new state law that took effect this week.
The move aimed at combating distracted driving went onto the books on July 1 after being approved by the state Legislature this year.
Indiana is joining more than 20 other states in prohibiting drivers from holding or using a handheld mobile device while operating a moving vehicle.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb encouraged legislators to approve the ban, arguing that distracted driving increases the risk of a crash by more than 31/2 times. It was to blame in at least 860 injury crashes and 48 crashes with deaths across Indiana last year, according to state police.
The new law allows cellphone use by drivers only with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies. It broadens a previous state ban on texting while driving that officials found unenforceable and didn’t ban actions such as emailing or using Snapchat, Twitter and other apps.
Violators can be fined up to $500 and they could lose their driver’s license for repeat violations. But motorists who are ticketed before July 1, 2021, will not receive points on their license, which can lead to license suspension.
This article was first published in Insurance Journal.