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Police wait to see wording of texting and driving bill

January 27, 2011

COLUMBIA CITY — Local law enforcement has mixed emotions regarding proposed legislation at the statehouse about texting and driving.
The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to ban texting while driving for all Hoosiers, sending the bill to the state senate.
“Generally speaking, I think law enforcement would be in favor of some kind of legislation, but we’re going to be held to the usual standard of actually seeing it happening,” said Whitley County Sheriff Mark Hodges today.
“It will depend on the wording of the statute, if it does pass, as to how we would be expected to enforce it.”
The bill was introduced by Bedford’s Rep. Eric Koch.
Koch’s proposed law would make a violation a Class C infraction to use a phone to type, transmit or read a text message or e-mail while operating a moving vehicle, according to a report by the Post-Tribune.
Drivers using hands-free technology would be exempt from the law.
Hodges said officers are aware of the dangers of texting and driving but that it’s sometimes difficult to determine that practice as a cause when investigating a crash.
“I’m aware of a few cases over the years where an accident has been a result of texting and driving,” said Hodges.
“But in a lot of cases, a motorist who’s involved in an accident might not be truthful to an officer about whether or not they were doing that.”
Hodges said while some may consider texting to be more of a “pre-baby boomer” activity, he cautioned that the issue is about safety and not about an age demographic.
“I’m of the opinion that age may play into it, to a point,” he said, “but texting for anyone, regardless of age is a dangerous activity. It’s obviously a safety concern, no matter how old you are.”
The texting-while-driving ban moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Koch told fellow lawmakers who had questions about the legislation that police could pull someone over specifically for texting while driving, but that they wouldn’t be allowed to confiscate the phone.

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