Hands-free driving bill moves one step closer to becoming law

Statewide— A proposal that would ban motorists from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads appears on its one step closer to becoming law.

Tuesday, the Indiana Senate voted 43-4 in favor of the bill that is aimed at making roadways safer.  House members endorsed a similar version of the bill last month that would permit cellphone use only with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies. This proposal would ban people from holding or using a telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle. Republican Senator Michael Crider of Greenfield, the bill’s sponsor, stated that 21 other states with similar laws have seen reductions in the number of crashes.

The Indiana State Police report that distracted driving was to blame in at least 860 injury crashes and 48 crashes with deaths in Indiana last year. But experts say that Hands-Free technology doesn’t necessarily make driving distraction-free.  The National Safety Council says that drivers miss 50% of what is in front of them with Hands-Free driving technology.  AAA spokespeople say that drivers focus more on technology and less on the road.

Senator Jean Leising of Oldenburg argued the tougher law would unfairly affect those who drive older vehicles without hands-free technology and that the maximum potential $500 fine was excessive.

The amended bill will now move back to the House for final approval before it goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb to sign.  Governor Holcomb already stated that this proposal was a priority for him this session.