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Amendment Would Ban Calls with Texting while Driving

An amendment Monday would add placing or receiving telephone calls to the language of a bill banning texting while driving.

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Photo: Courtesy: Flickr, Alex Ragone

A bill that's on its way to the state Senate would place tougher restrictions on texting while driving.

Indiana drivers may no longer be able to talk on their mobile phones without a hands-free device.

Bedford Senator Brent Steele offered an amendment Monday that would add placing or receiving telephone calls to the language of a bill banning texting while driving. Steele said without his amendment, the bill is unenforceable.

“If you’re going to do it make it a total ban so that the police officers, when they see it, can make an arrest on it or not,” said Steele.

Some senators expressed concerns that the amendment also bans phone use even with hands-free devices. Indianapolis Senator Greg Taylor said the language goes too far.

“That would mean that you cannot use that hands-free device. And if you think that’s the only way that we can address the issue with the danger here, that’s not correct,” said Taylor.

Senator Tim Lanane said he thinks the amendment will ultimately kill the bill, and Indiana can’t go another year without a bill banning texting while driving.

“We heard in testimony before the committee that in states that have passed bills that have at least outlawed texting, the voluntary compliance rate with the provisions of the law to not text increase by 50 percent.”

But Markle Senator Travis Holdman, the bill’s sponsor, said Steele’s amendment still allows for hands-free devices. Though he did not support the amendment, Holdman said the bill now requires hands-free devices for all phone use, instead of just texting.

The amendment passed 27 to 23. The bill now goes before the Senate for final passage.

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