The House has passed legislation that would bar all drivers from having their phones in their hands while driving.
House Bill 1070 passed 86-10 on Wednesday. The two-page bill, authored by Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, updates a current law passed in 2011 that requires all phones must be used hands-free while behind the wheel of a vehicle.
“Simple enough, but very powerful,” Sullivan said of her bill.
The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
Under the current law, texting while driving is banned, but the law is almost unenforceable because there is no way to prove a text was being sent. The new legislation is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s agenda to prevent distracted driving.
In a statement, Holcomb said handheld devices are known to take a person’s mind, hands and attention away from where they need to keep their focus.
“When your hands and your eyes and your brain are all doing something other than steering a car, bad things tend to happen,” Holcomb said.
During the House debate on the bill, Sullivan and others talked about the culture shift involving people constantly being on their phones. She said the “epidemic” is that people think it is OK to use their phones while driving.
“You can see more heads looking down at their phones than you can see looking at the road now,” Sullivan said. “Distracted driving has increased, and it’s killing, hurting and endangering Hoosiers.”
Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, said people will need to get used to not using their phones while driving just like they got used to wearing seatbelts laws years ago.
“I hated wearing a seatbelt … now it’s just natural,” Pressel said. “This is just going to become natural.”
A handful of lawmakers voted against the bill, including Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who said the legislation “scared him to death” because it gives the government too much power.
“We’re going farther and farther down this path of taking over individual decision-making,” Lucas said.