Report From Indiana State Senator Mark Messmer

Indiana (NNDC):

Indiana State Auditor Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville) is shown talking with District 63 State Representative Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) during the recent session of
the Indiana State Legislature.
Photo: Evansville Courier & Press

New cellphone driving law goes into effect July 1

By State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper)

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On July 1, House Enrolled Act 1070 will go into effect, requiring Hoosiers to use hands-free or voice-operated technology if using a cellphone while driving.

While Indiana already has a ban on texting while driving, House Enrolled Act 1070 is aimed at reducing the number of distracted drivers on our roadways, especially among Hoosier teens.

In 2018, approximately 50,000 crashes in the nation involved the use of a cellphone, and according to the American Automobile Association, 21% of teen drivers involved in a fatal accident were using their cellphone at the time of the accident.

In addition, it is often difficult for police officers to enforce the current no texting law when some people are browsing social media and other apps while they drive. The average person in 2020 uses many more apps on their phone than they did in 2011 when Indiana originally outlawed texting behind the wheel. This update will help make it easier for police to enforce the law, and encourage drivers to put down their phones.

In Indiana alone there are more than 1,200 collisions each year where a cellphone or other electronic device was a factor, resulting in 40 deaths annually. These accidents are especially tragic because they could have easily been avoided.

Hoosiers who don’t have a Bluetooth-equipped vehicle can still answer their calls and use their GPS by using a mounted phone stand on their dash. Even keeping the phone in a cup holder will be legal, as long as you’re not holding it physically in your hand. However, if you’re driving and need to make an emergency call to 911, this new law does allow you to do that.

Twenty-one other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws similar to HEA 1070, which has resulted in fewer crashes and deaths caused by cellphone distraction.

This is a good time for each of us to evaluate our own behavior and encourage others to put down their phone when driving. Don’t look at Facebook notifications. Put the address into your navigation app before you leave. Wait until you are parked to grab the phone resting in the passenger’s seat. Even short glances away from the road distract us, putting others and ourselves in harm’s way. Together, we can work to eliminate those easily avoidable accidents and safely get to our destinations.

As always, feel free to contact my office directly with your questions and concerns by email at Senator.Messmer@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.

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