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by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

April is Distracted Driving Month

A man yawns while driving

“It was straight out of a movie; the van was barreling down on me,” recalls Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance employee and insured Amy Kraft. “There was nowhere I could go, and the van kept speeding up and smashed into the back of me.” 

Though it looked like a scene from the latest spy thriller, the cause of this accident was distracted driving. The driver was looking down at his phone and fell asleep at the wheel with his foot on the gas pedal. He continued to accelerate until he hit Kraft’s car. 


Though we all know it is important to stay alert and remain focused on your driving at all times, studies show that Hoosiers may not be doing a great job at that. The Fiscal Year 2023 Indiana Annual Report from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute states that: “Distracted driving, such as texting while driving, vaping, or eating and drinking has notably been an increasing issue across all demographics of drivers.” 


Which is why April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s the perfect reminder to pay attention while behind the wheel.  


What is distracted driving?  


In simplest terms, distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from focusing on driving, which could include texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, fiddling with the stereo, applying makeup, reading and navigating.  


When behind the wheel, you must focus 100% of your attention on driving. 


If you are in the passenger seat when a driver becomes distracted, speak up and say something. If they are trying to do something other than drive, offer to help. This also sets an example for others who may be in the car, too. It shows them that driving distracted isn’t safe and that it is okay to ask for assistance from co-pilots.   


Is distracted driving that bad? 


Yes. In 2022, 3,308 Americans were killed by distracted driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Though you may think to yourself that you are just taking your eyes off the road for a moment, the NHTSA found that the average text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s about 120 yards; that’s like driving an entire football field with your eyes closed.  


When you take part in distracted driving, you’re robbing yourself of precious seconds that you may need to avoid an accident or a deadly crash. 


How do drivers get distracted when driving? 


The Indiana Department of Labor claims that there are three types of distracted driving: 

  • Cognitive distraction takes your mind off the road. An example of cognitive distraction is when you are zoning out while driving and have arrived without remembering how you got there. 

  • Visual distraction takes your eyes off the road. This is when you stop looking at the road to answer a text, watch a video or change your music. 

  • Manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel. This occurs when you reach behind you to grab something or lean over to pick something up off the floor. 


10 types of driver distractions  

Distracted driving puts you, your loved ones and others on the road at risk. There are many different diversions that can cause distracted driving. Make sure you don’t do these while driving, and you’ll be a better and safer driver: 

  • Texting on your phone or device   

  • Calling someone with the phone in your hand    

  • Trying to settle or attend to children in the car   

  • Programming the navigation system or app  

  • Applying makeup or other personal hygiene tasks  

  • Being overly tired 

  • Fiddling with music on your phone or stereo  

  • Eating or drinking  

  • Grabbing something from your purse or bag or reaching into the back seat   

  • Letting a pet ride on your lap 

 This list is only 10 examples. There are countless more. 


How to prevent distracted driving?  


There are many ways to help prevent distracted driving as the driver, passenger or parent/guardian of the driver.  


How do I prevent distracted driving as the driver? 


The first way to prevent distracted driving is by agreeing to not do it. When you are the driver, commit to placing 100% of your attention on the task of driving. 


What else can you do? 

  • Put your phone down. Not only is using your phone while driving dangerous but Indiana’s Distracted Driving Law prohibits it.  

  • Put your phone on the do not disturb setting so you aren’t tempted to look at your phone and those texting you will be alerted that you are driving.  

  • Always clear your windows and mirrors of any kind of hazard that may prevent you from seeing clearly.  

  • Always keep both hands on the wheel.  

  • Only use a handsfree device to talk on the phone. 


How do I prevent distracted driving as a passenger? 


As the passenger in the car, you have the right to let someone know if they are not driving safely; don’t hesitate to ask the driver to stop looking at their phone. An alternative to this is offering to make the call or send the text message for the driver. 


Accidents can happen within seconds of looking down. Instead of taking the risk, ask the driver if they need assistance with anything while driving.  


Are you going on a long road trip? Make sure the driver knows you are there to help. If they want a drink or a snack, offer to open the bottle or hand them a few munchies. 


What if I’m the parent of a teen driver?  


First things first, you need to lead by example. Make sure you don’t drive distracted and have conversations with your youthful driver about all the responsibilities that come with driving. 


According to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for America’s teens, and teen drivers are nearly four times more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers aged 20 years or older. These educational videos and stories share impactful real-life examples of how serious the consequences can be.   


Make safe driving a competition 


If you have an auto insurance policywithIndiana Farm Bureau Insurancesign up forDriveTrend! This mobile application tracks your and your family’s driving habits and can save you money on your auto insurance premium. Make driving safe a competition by comparing yourDriveTrendstar scores!   


Download DriveTrend ®



What the state of Indiana and federal government are doing 


Not only is it unsafe to drive while distracted by a phone or hand-held device, but it is illegal in Indiana. Hoosiers are not permitted to use hand-held devices while driving—a law that took effect in 2020.   


The hands-free law allows drivers to be less distracted by requiring them to put down phones and other devices. According to theU.S. Department of Transportation, 17% of all crashes resulting in an injury involved driver distraction. In fact, drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in an accident!  


This law makes it illegal to have a telecommunications device in your hand while driving—even when stopped at a light. This law was a push by Governor Eric Holcomb to help make Hoosier roads safer. So, keep in mind that having a device in your hand while driving is not only distracting but illegal. To read more about this law,  


The importance of staying alert while driving is the law, and more importantly, it is for your safety and the safety of others. Stay safe by driving undistracted not just during April’s distracted driving awareness campaign, but every time you, a family member or friend gets behind the wheel!