Why one Indiana state senator voted against the proposed hands-free driving law

Posted at 3:54 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 15:54:49-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The state of Indiana is another step closer to having a hands-free driving law.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation amended and approved House Bill 1070 Tuesday afternoon after hours of testimony.

If passed, the bill would outlaw holding your phone while driving. You could still use Bluetooth or speakerphone while driving as long as the phone isn’t in your hand. The bill is different from a texting-while-driving law passed a few years ago. Police say that law is unenforceable because it doesn’t say anything about using social media or watching YouTube videos, as an example.

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The committee passed the bill 8-1, with most saying it is a necessary step to try to prevent serious or deadly crashes. Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, was the only one to vote against it.

“I don’t believe we can just continue to pass laws that either aren’t enforceable, or people aren’t going to pay attention to,” Boots said. "I feel that this is just another law that is similar to the texting law we passed a couple years ago. It didn’t work. This isn’t gonna work.”

The bill has been frequently compared to seat belt laws in the country — having the law eventually changed the culture of wearing a seat belt while in a vehicle.

Boots said he didn’t wear a seat belt until his vehicle “dinged every two seconds” until he buckled up.

“But that’s because I didn’t think the government ought to be telling me what to do,” he said.

He also said a solution to distracted driving would be education and making sure people know how their behavior affects other people.

Twenty-one other states have similar hands-free laws. The bill now heads to the full Senate. If it passes there, it will be returned to the House to approve the minor changes made this week.