Indiana State trooper talks about the dangers of distracted driving

Distracted driving with ISP Trooper Chris Hanson (WTHR/Steve Jefferson)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — An Indiana State trooper has seen some of the most unbelievable distractions among drivers in the past couple of years. Trooper Chris Hanson spends almost 100 percent of this time driving as part of his dream job. Hanson sees distracted driver all the time, including a driver he caught on Facetime behind the wheel. He just wants people to simply pay attention.

“I have seen drivers not paying attention while on their cell phone, I've seen people reading books, applying makeup, clipping a fingernail, watching movies and just a whole variety of things," Hanson said.

Hanson joined ISP three years ago. It’s a job he loves and, believe it or not, his employment anniversary date just happened to be February 14. He keeps a photo of his 2-year-old son in his cruiser with him as a reminder for him to get home safe every day. And he’s counting on the public to help make that happen by using safe practices on the road. That also helps assure they too get to their destinations safe.

But distracted driving is a nationwide issue that hits home with every community.

What’s worse is the fact that Hanson has been on the interstate in his marked state police car with distracted drivers not even paying attention that law enforcement is near them. Unfortunately Hanson has seen some distracted drivers crashes that could have been easily avoided.

“It's a tough pill to swallow because it's preventable," he said.

Possibly preventable like the January 2020 crash where trucker Matthew Lewis reportedly told deputies a distraction caused him to crash into stopped traffic. The crash killed three people and injured 14 others. Two good samaritans ended up rescuing Lewis from the cab of his semi seconds before it became fully engulfed in flames. The distraction according to Boone County authorities ended up being Lewis handling his coffee mug and not paying attention to the road only for a few seconds.

Hanson stresses distracted driving situations happens among all ages.

“it’s coming from the 16-year-old who just got their license all the way to the person that's 85 to 90 years old,” Hanson said.

Some State Lawmakers are still battling over requiring Indiana drivers to use hands free devices behind the wheel.

So far not even victim testimony has had an impact on passing new laws. Until then, troopers like Hanson are trying to make the roads safe as possible for all drivers.

“I am not opposed to anything that would make the road safer,” said Hanson. “But even ... if we can enforce what we have now will go a long way to stopping some of the things we are seeing now in distracted driving."

Trooper Hanson told Eyewitness News with or without legislation about hands-free driving devices, being safe behind the wheel falls on the driver. So he hopes drivers will make paying attention a personal goal.

“My goal is to get back home safe and sound,” said Hanson. “And I want the same thing for everyone out here on the road.”