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Take INDOT’s challenge: Buckle up and put the phone down

INDOT urges drivers to put their phones down

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Buckle up and put down your phones.

That is what the Indiana Department of Transportation is challenging Hoosier drivers to do Wednesday in dedication to Buckle Up and Put Your Phone Down Day to encourage motorists to rethink every trip they make in a vehicle to improve safety on roadways.

INDOT is joining other states in a larger movement that tackled two of the most impactful actions a driver can take to prevent crashes – or survive if one occurs, according to a news release.

The department says that of the 980 people who were killed on Indiana roadways in 2022, 253 were not wearing a seatbelt. Indiana State Police reports that mobile devices were involved in more than 7,000 crashes in 2022.

“Unfortunately, 980 people lost their lives on roadways in Indiana last year,” said INDOT Commissioner Mike Smith in a release. “My personal goal and a goal of the agency is to reduce fatalities and severe injuries on Indiana roadways by 25 percent over the next decade. INDOT is consistently looking at ways to improve safety on our network, but we know that changing driver behavior will be a huge challenge. Getting on board with Buckle Up Phone Down is a step toward progress.”

The Buckle Up Phone Down was launched in 2017 by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Smith says drivers can also look out for signs on interstate roads urging them to drive safely.

He says it’s going to take a lot of work to stop distracted driving.

“Until we figure out cell phones it’s going to be hard to get to zero, but we can make a major impact if we just do some common sense things,” Smith said.

They say even though the state has a hands-free law, distracted driving is still a leading cause of crashes.

“The majority say I didn’t even know that was a law or I’m from this state and we don’t have that law. Well, you’re not driving in that state right now, so again it’s incumbent upon us at that moment to provide that education component coupled with the enforcement component,” Capt. Ron Galaviz at the Indiana State Police said.

He said, “It’s extremely frustrating when you’re driving down the road and you’re watching somebody swerving into your lane because they’re paying more attention to what’s on their phone than what’s on the road around them.”