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Indiana Motor Truck Association Partnering With Attorney General, State Police To Tell Indiana Drivers: "Put the Phone Down"
Updated January 15, 2016 7:55 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - There are now more crashes related to texting and driving than drinking and driving. In fact, 80 percent of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction.

In an effort to address this pressing issue, on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the offices of Perfect Transportation in Indianapolis, the Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA) came together with state officials and leaders, including The Office of the Attorney General, Indiana State Police, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Department of Revenue and Indiana Department of Transportation to unveil a new campaign and a new Indiana specialty license plate aimed at increasing awareness of distracted driving in Indiana. The new plate reads, "Put the Phone Down," and its goal is to keep Indiana drivers' eyes on the road and not on their phone.

Proceeds from the license plate will go to IMTA-sponsored safe driving programs in Indiana such as the Save a Life Tour, an all-day multimedia event which sheds light on the dangers of distracted driving. The immersive learning experience features "no-holds-barred" video, interactive driving simulators and speaking presentations. Since 2008, the Save a Life Tour has visited 150 military installations in the U.S. and overseas, as well as more than 1,500 colleges and universities and 600 high schools across the country.

"The Indiana Motor Truck Association exists to represent and promote highway safety for not only the trucking industry but for all drivers," said Gary Langston, President of the IMTA. "Our industry has come to witness firsthand the dire consequences of distracted driving - and so have decided to confront it by selling a plate that alerts others of this issue and funds programs that help keep Indiana drivers safe on the road."

Amy Lathrop, the current chair of the IMTA board and COO of Perfect Transportation could not be more supportive of these efforts. "Distractive driving is not just a problem for the Trucking Industry, but also a problem for our motoring public. I'm excited about our mission and leading our effort to further educate and save lives in Indiana."

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is also a strong advocate of distracted driving awareness. In 2012, The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute announced its partnership with the Attorney General and AT&T to raise awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.

"As Indiana's Attorney General, it is my job to protect the rights, freedoms and safety we enjoy as citizens of the Hoosier state," Zoeller said. "The rise of technology continues to present new dangers, particular to young people. With this new license plate and the continued education and awareness efforts conducted by the Indiana Motor Truck Association, I grow more confident that drivers, young and old, will be safer on Indiana's roads."

Moreover, effective July 1, 2011, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law making it illegal to "type, transmit, or read e-mail or text messages on a communication device while driving in Indiana." Those who violate may face fines up to $500.

"My fellow troopers and I see damage done by distracted driving every day," said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. "The worst part is that these tragedies are most times preventable. We're proud to support the IMTA's ongoing efforts, and we'll continue doing our part to keep Hoosiers safe on Indiana roads and highways."

Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Kent Abernathy added, "Every month, hundreds of young, new drivers occupy Indiana roads. To ensure the current and future safety of all Hoosier motorists, we must educate our younger drivers about the real dangers of driving while distracted - this program goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, and the Indiana BMV is wholly supportive."

Brandye Hendrickson, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, stressed to conference attendees the importance of reducing the number of lives lost in traffic accidents each year - including nearly 800 people in Indiana alone.

"By buckling up, not driving impaired, driving defensively, obeying traffic laws, sharing the road, and turning off their cell phones, Hoosiers can make our roads and highways safer for everyone. I commend the IMTA for this campaign, and look forward to hearing about its expanded programming to combat distracted driving in the future."

YRC Freight Professional Driver Donald Conklin represents the trucking industry and promotes highway safety to the motoring public. Based in South Bend, Don is a five-time Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA) Truck Driving Championship winner. He has driven more than 2.5 million accident-free miles during the course of his 28-year career and uses his experience to help others improve their safe driving skills.

"As a commercial driver, I see distracted driving every day," said Conklin. "It has been more and more common for me to see people driving while focusing on their cell phone than ever before. I would like to see all drivers eliminate or reduce their distraction by just putting their phone down. Safely getting to your destination is important for you, those who care about you and those who share the road with you."

The "Put the Phone Down" license plate became available on January 1, 2016. Indiana motorists may purchase the specialty license plate at any Indiana BMV license branch, certified partner locations, or at myBMV.com. The plate may be registered on passenger cars, trucks up to 11,000 pounds, motorcycles and recreational vehicles. The cost is $40, with $25 being returned to the IMTA for distracted driving programs.For additional information visit http://www.intrucking.org/license-plate.

About the IMTA

The Indiana Motor Truck Association is a highly respected association that strives to serve, represent and promote the interests of the trucking industry by enhancing its image, efficiency and productivity through its focus on safety and advocacy. Founded in 1934, the IMTA has continuously offered safety programs through its Safety & Maintenance Council, including distracted driving education, advocacy at both the state and federal levels, and networking opportunities and free consultations for its members. For additional information, visit intrucking.org.



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