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Indiana ban on drivers using handheld phones wins approval

State legislators have given their final approval to a proposal banning motorists from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads to combat distracted driving.
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WTHR) — State legislators have given their final approval to a proposal banning motorists from using handheld cellphones on Indiana roads to combat distracted driving.

The Indiana House voted 81-11 and the Senate 49-1 on Tuesday in favor of the bill.

The measure permits cellphone use by drivers only with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies.

State police say distracted driving was to blame in at least 860 injury crashes and 48 fatalities in Indiana last year.

Governor Eric Holcomb will need to sign the bill into law, but he has been a proponent of Indiana enacting a hands-free driving law. He even mentioned the proposal as part of his State of the State address in January. Holcomb recognized motorcyclists Tina and Lorin Smith during the speech. The couple both had a leg amputated after they were struck by a distracted driver.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook has also been vocal in support of the legislation after his grandson Zachary died in a crash where the van in which he was riding was rear-ended by a distracted driver.

“I don't wish that upon anybody,” Cook said.

The new law will take effect in July, but any tickets issued won’t result in points toward a driver’s license suspension until July 2021. Twenty-one other states currently have such a law on the books.