A bill before the Indiana House transportation panel would
require drivers to keep their hands off the phone.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, would ban hand-held cell
phone use while driving. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” device
would still be permitted.
Under the bill – HB1508 – a driver caught using a hand-held
phone could face a $25 fine. It would exempt emergency calls.
“When you’re on the phone, you don’t tend to put your mind
to what you’re doing,” Summers told The Indianapolis Star. “It’s a real
Currently, New York and New Jersey have the only statewide
laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. Several states, however, are
expected to address the issue in the coming months.
But with cell-phone related incidents making up only a small
percentage of motor vehicle accidents, even government officials wonder why
this particular behavior was chosen for a law. Studies have shown that
hands-free and hand-held cell phones are equally
distracting to drivers.
“We’ve evaluated and
come to the conclusion that hands-free use is just as risky or perhaps riskier
than hand-held phones because it’s the cognitive distraction that can
compromise driving” Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, told The New York Times.
Tyson said research
within his agency and outside, along with driving simulations, found that it
was the talking on a cell phone while driving that was distracting, and that
therefore cell phones should be used only in emergencies.