Heads up: Indiana Senate passes Hands-free driving proposal

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A driver uses a phone while behind the wheel of a car (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that the bill was on its way to the governor’s desk. The House still needs to give its final approval before it can go to the governor’s desk. This has been updated in this version of the story.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — You are one step closer to having to put your phone down while driving.

The Indiana Senate voted 43-4 Tuesday in favor of the bill that supporters say is aimed at making roadways safer by combating distracted driving. House members endorsed last month a similar version of the bill that would permits 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.

The measure would broaden the state’s current ban on texting while driving that officials say is unenforceable and doesn’t include actions such as emailing and using Snapchat or other apps.

Republican Sen. Michael Crider of Greenfield, the bill sponsor, said 21 other states with similar laws have seen reductions in the number of crashes.

“This is the right thing to do,” Crider said. “I can’t think of a single phone call that is important enough for anybody to take the chance on taking a life.”

Distracted driving was to blame in at least 860 injury crashes and 48 crashes with deaths across Indiana last year, according to state police.

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

“We have so much government, folks,” she said. “This is another layer.”

The House must still give final approval to the bill before it goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has endorsed it.

Governor Holcomb already said this proposal was a priority for him this session. We will keep you posted when he makes his final decision.

Video from previous report:

Data pix.

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