A bill that would ban texting while driving is moving forward in the state legislature. Garrett Republican David Yarde wants to make it a felony to injure someone while texting or talking on your cell phone. Yarde says talking on your phone impairs your driving, just as drinking does – except he says, cell phone related crashes are now four times as common.
“You need to be aware that if you seriously injure somebody or kill somebody there are going to be serious penalties involved. It is driving while impaired. We are actually seeing the alcohol part being reduced and the cell phone part is absolutely ballooning.”
The House Roads and Transportation committee voted 10-2 to send a texting ban authored by Bedford Republican Eric Koch to the floor. Yarde’s bill meanwhile, is hung up because it exempts police and paramedics and Koch’s bill does not.
Roads and Transportation Committee chairman Ed Soliday says the conflict needs to be resolved before the committee votes.
“As a guy who spent a career in aviation safety, I’m not really inclined to exempt anyone and if texting is dangerous, it is dangerous for everyone.
It’s already illegal in Indiana for drivers under age 18 to text while driving. Koch’s bill would extend the ban to all drivers. Yarde’s bill makes the penalty for calling while driving and injuring someone the same as a DUI with injury, with a potential prison term of up to three years. The maximum jumps to eight years if someone is killed. That leaves it a step short of the penalty for fatal DUI’s, which carry 6-20 years.