Distracted Driving Laws Make It Worse, Not Safer

Recently Governor Holcomb signed into law House Enrolled Act 1070, which now makes it a crime to hold a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. This law, just like previous anti-texting law ( IC 9-21-8-59 ) will not make us safer, but in fact make things more dangerous.


In July, 2011, IC 9-21-8-59 became law. Statistically, the number of accidents in Indiana were on the decline:

# of Accidents205,352205,764189,962193,384188,460

table source:

However, after the passage of the anti-texting law, things didn’t go as lawmakers would hope:

# of Accidents189,185193,258205,790216,521223,950219,273217,046

Accidents continued to climb. Instead of looking at why that was, lawmakers again decided that “we’re not doing enough! Let’s curtail more freedom in the name of safety!”

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

Thomas Jefferson

Human Behavior

Human beings don’t easily change their behavior. The Prohibition Era didn’t end alcohol consumption. What it did do was make society more dangerous, by providing a marketplace for criminals. This can be said for most laws that try to curtail human behavior.

The war on drugs is an utter failure, underscored by countless States defying Federal law and making marijuana legal. How many lives have been lost by international drug cartels supplying the American market with the drugs they will do regardless of what the law says? How many people are in jail, supported by funds from the treasury, which ultimately come from my pocket and yours?

Why It Is More Dangerous

Road and screen visible

In the first image, you’ll see how most people texted before the anti-texting laws came into effect.

Can’t see the road now

In the second image, you see how most texting is done today while driving.

After the anti-texting laws, people still send texts. But now they are fearful of being caught and fined for their behavior. So instead of having the phone up inline with the window so they can see both the road and the phone, they instead have the device on their lap. This forces their eyes off of the road, increasing the time it takes to reacquire their surroundings, and increasing their response time to changing road conditions.

This law sounds good on paper. It had good intentions… It made things more dangerous.

The New “No Cell in Hand” Law

Just like before, our behavior won’t change. We will still use our phones while driving, just like the police use theirs: As well as their mounted laptops, their radios, and GPS. The difference though is that they don’t have to hide their usage, so statistically they will be safer on the road.

With the new law comes more challenges to hide cell phone usage. Simply keeping it out of view may not be enough now. Rest assured those who text while driving will find a way, even if it increases the time their eyes are already off of the road. All this does is make everyone on the road less safe.

A Better Approach

Instead of trying to control behavior, we should have instead focused on punishments for distracted driving. Just like we have levels of homicide today (involuntary / voluntary, crime of passion / premeditated) we could have easily added harsher punishments and/or fines had you injured someone while being distracted.

This cuts down on the nanny state we are quickly embracing, provides a safer environment where cell phone users aren’t afraid to have their phones in clear view of the road, and frees up police to patrol for real criminal activity.

If you’d like to discuss, this post has been shared to the JasonforOffice FB page.

Not only do I approve of this message, I wrote it – Jason Eicholtz