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Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana Senate endorses ban on motorists using handheld phones

A proposal that would prohibit motorists from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads seems to be on its way to becoming law.

The Indiana Senate voted 43-4 Tuesday in support of the bill that supporters say is intended at making roadways safer by combating distracted driving. House members endorsed previous month a similar version of the bill that would allow cellphone use only with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies.

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

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

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

Distracted driving was the reason behind at least 860 injury crashes and 48 crashes with deaths throughout Indiana last year, according to state police.

Republican Sen. Jean Leising of Oldenburg argued the stricter law would unfairly affect those who drive older vehicles without hands-free technology and that the highest potential $500 fine was too much.

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

The House must still provide final approval to the bill before it will go to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who has endorsed it.

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