INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A proposal to ban drivers from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads is
advancing in the state Legislature.
A state Senate
committee voted 8-1 Tuesday to endorse the bill that only permits cellphone
use with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies. It
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.
The House approved
a similar version of the bill last month, which supporters say will help
combat distracted driving and prevent many serious crashes.
testified from a wheelchair about how she and her husband, Lorin, had
stopped their motorcycle along a road when they were hit by a minivan whose
driver was looking at a cellphone. Each lost a leg in the crash.
Eric Holcomb introduced the Indianapolis couple during his State of the
State speech last month as he called for passage of the handheld cellphone
ban. Versions of the measure are in effect in at least 20 states.
Smith echoed other
supporters of the ban who say it would have the same impact as enforcing
speed limits and laws requiring seat belt use on making highways safer.
“The seat belt law
didn’t get going right away,” she said. “But if you look now, you see almost
everybody with a seat belt on.”
was to blame in at least 860 crashes with injuries and 48 fatalities across
Indiana last year, according to state police.
Superintendent Doug Carter and other officials acknowledged it would be
difficult to prove a driver was handling a phone at the time of a crash, but
argued that a state ban would send a message about acceptable driver
Tuesday that he understands arguments that actions such as eating also
distract drivers, but that he believes cellphone use is especially
“It is pulling your
brain, it is pulling your eyes and it is pulling your hands off the job
they’re supposed to be doing,” Holcomb said. “Sometimes for an extended
period of time.”
Several people who
have been injured or whose family members have been killed in crashes caused
by distracted driving urged lawmakers to support the ban. They were joined
by representatives of the trucking industry, automakers and emergency room
Andy Cook, who is
mayor in the Indianapolis suburb of Westfield, showed committee members
photos of his 14-year-old grandson, Zachary Hyde, who was killed when a
driver going nearly 80 mph while holding a cellphone slammed into his
parents’ vehicle that was stopped in highway traffic.
“It’s something we
need to do,” Cook said. “I do not want to see any more Hoosier families go
through what our family has gone through.”