Kentucky and Indiana are among the 41 states to ban drivers from texting in an effort to reduce the number of auto accidents caused by distracted driving. But states differ widely on the information law enforcement collects regarding distracted driving for crash reports.
We recently wrote about the 2013 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report on distracted driving, which indicates that both Kentucky and Indiana lag in the enforcement of texting bans as well as in general awareness about the dangers of texting while driving. The GHSA survey also suggests that the two states could improve the data they gather in accident reports to help paint a more complete picture of the effects of texting-related accidents.
As part of its report Distracted Driving: GHSA Survey of the States, the GHSA outlined how many of the data elements established by the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) each state collected in its accident reports. The 2012 edition of the MMUCC distracted driving criteria includes:
- Driver not distracted
- Driver manually operating an electronic communication device (texting, typing or dialing)
- Driver talking on a hands-free electronic device
- Driver talking on a hand-held electronic device
- Driver distracted by other activity or electronic device
- Driver distracted by passenger
- Driver otherwise distracted in the vehicle (eating, personal hygiene, etc.)
- Driver distracted by activity outside the vehicle
- Unknown if driver distracted
Currently, Indiana includes only whether a cell phone was in use at the time of the crash. Kentucky accident reports feature a space for “human factors,” and the individual filing the report must then choose specific factors, which include three elements related to distracted driving.
States also vary on the fines for texting while driving. First-time offenders in Kentucky face a maximum $25 penalty, while those who text and drive in Indiana could have to pay up to $500.