Indiana lawmakers introduce hands-free cellphone bill for drivers

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Lawmakers at the Statehouse are looking to take your phone out of your hands while you're driving.

A bill introduced in January by Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) pushes Indiana into becoming a "hands-free" state for motorists. The bill would remove any gray areas surrounding the current "no texting and driving" law, which leaves room for drivers to partake in any number of online activities while behind the wheel.

"People take that word, 'texting,' literally," Jennifer Smith, CEO of Stopdistractions.org, told WNDU-TV. "And so you'll see people saying, 'Oh, well, I wasn't texting.' But they're on Instagram the whole time they drive. Or they're FaceTiming each other. They're watching Netflix and YouTube, playing games."

None of those activities are currently illegal, which is why several states are moving to get phones out of drivers' hands altogether. Police then have a clearer interpretation of the law and "can start enforcing it with consequences," Smith said.

Georgia passed a hands-free law last year and police wrote 900 citations in the first month. Since then, however, they've noticed a downward trend.

Being caught using a cellphone while driving would have essentially the same consequence as a Class C infraction, WNDU reported, similar to a DUI. If a crash involving a driver using a cellphone or other electronic device caused a death, the penalty could be 1-12 years in jail, a similar punishment to manslaughter.