Teen driving bill moves to Senate

Friday, January 30, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- A bill that would ban teenage drivers from using cell phones and texting passed the state Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

The panel voted 9-1 to endorse the bill and send it to the full Senate for consideration.

"Kids probably aren't going to like it, but it is a good thing to toughen it up. They need to enforce it if it passes," said Greencastle State Farm Agent Allen Williams.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Holdman of Markle would ban drivers under age 18 from talking on a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel.

Other items in the bill include adding six months to the eligibility age for a learner's permit, a driver's license with driver's education and a license without driver's education.

It also adds at least 50 hours of practice including 10 at night, with a parent or other licensed driver age 25 years or older. Teens will not be allowed to carry passengers for the first six months after getting a license or drive late at night,

Insurance Associations and even the AAA Hoosier Motor Club is jumping on board the movement to improve the law and hopefully reduce the fatality rate among teens.

According to AAA both nationally and in Indiana, nearly two of every three people killed in teen-driver crashes are people other than the teen driver.

More than 150 Hoosier teen drivers lost their lives in fatal crashes in Indiana in 2007.

"Anything that will improve the driving ability of kids is good," said Williams.

"I used to watch kids get their license and wreck their cars in the first year then it dropped to the first week. Kids have faster reactions than adults and they over-react. It's a lack of experience," he added.

Many other states have tighter restrictions, including license age minimums as high as 18.

Unfinished neurological development and plain inexperience make teen drivers more susceptible to distractions and more prone to accidents, the experts say.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past years, 4,544 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes.

In the same year, nearly 400,000 motor vehicle occupants in this age group sustained nonfatal injuries that required treatment in an emergency department.

In recent years, legislation requiring child restraints, set belts in pickup trucks and a lower red line for intoxication have overcome heavy opposition in the state.

The only "no" vote on Tuesday came from Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, who said that as a father with five daughters, he would like to see the bill say that cell use in an emergency is OK.

Sen. Holdman, who sponsored the bill, said the only criticism he has heard from the public on the bill is that it doesn't go far enough and should ban drivers from using cell phones, regardless of age.

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  • If this law passes, when will it take effect?

    -- Posted by reader 2 on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 8:17 AM
  • if this passes, what if happens if I call 911 from my cellphone to phone in a drunk driver I happen to be following. Do I get in trouble as well? Maybe the cell phone law will keep people from being vigilantes and reporting crimes because they will be committing one themselves...just some food for thought...

    -- Posted by climberguy on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 8:29 AM
  • I think the driving age should be raised to 18. I also think that all cell phone usage when driving for all ages should be illegal except for a hands free phone.

    -- Posted by linda day on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 9:14 AM
  • They are taking peoples rights away everyday, before long we will be slaves to our government!

    -- Posted by 1stamendrights on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 1:01 PM
  • There is NO reason why anyone of any age should be texting while behind the wheel. That is plain stupid. I hope they ban the use of cell phones behind the wheel by teens, but I wouldn't be unhappy if they banned everyone from using them while driving. Too many times have I seen people almost cause wrecks, and are oblivious to the fact that they even did, bc they were too busy talking on a cell phone and not paying attention. Your full, undivided attention should be focused on the road at all times. And you can't do that while using a phone. I think it would be a great idea if the driving age was raised. Something along the lines of...Drivers education should be mandatory at age 15, permit given at age 16 and then a restricted driver's license given at age 17 to go to and from work and school only. You have to be 18 to buy cigs. or buy a lottery ticket..you should have to be 18 to drive a vehicle going 55-60 mph down the road that has the potential to kill someone. Of course I didn't feel this way when I was 16, but now that I am a mother of a 13 year old and having been through 2 teenage family memebers die in car accidents, I see the importance of needing experience to drive.

    -- Posted by putnammom on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 9:33 PM
  • i agree with 1stamendrights. Why do people just fall in line with this kind of legislation? Sure it is dangerous to drive while texting or talking on a cell phone. But, so is putting makeup on, reading a map, unruly children, eating fast-food. Are you all going to support laws banning those things from vehicles also? Where are our brains? It sounds like most of you want the gov't to take care of you in every aspect of your life! That's right- i forgot- you DID vote Obama in..........

    -- Posted by Rome on Fri, Jan 30, 2009, at 11:27 PM
  • No Rome I did not vote Obama. There are a lot more people talking on phones and texting then there is doing the other things you mentioned. Doing those things while driving is also a reason to be stop and possibly given a ticket. Anything that the police see that is a distraction causing you to drive in an unsafe manner is reason to be pulled over, they don't do it as often as they should. More wrecks, near misses and deaths are caused by using the cell phone, adults as well as teens should be banned from the use while driving. I already lost one family member due to her talking on the phone while driving, I don't want to loose another.

    -- Posted by mad-mom on Sat, Jan 31, 2009, at 9:55 AM
  • Yes actually I would like the gov't to take care of me!

    At least better than YOUR REPUBLICAN GOV'T did for the past 8 years.

    Thanks alot for our current situation (ROME)!!

    Its over, you lost, deal with it or move away!

    Keep you political *&^$ out of this, or at least

    wait till you have a leg to stand on.

    And obviously when it comes to politics you dont.

    If you knew anything about Gov't and the world outside of Greencastle you might understand.

    -- Posted by Jeff Lancaster on Tue, Feb 3, 2009, at 4:33 PM
  • Hey Jeff,

    Why do you want to sponge off of the taxpayers? Do you even work? If so, wouldn't you like to keep more of what you earn? I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes, but I'm just seeing the current administration taking more than what's fair. By the way, I seem to recall YOUR party starting this mess. People like Bawny Fwank and his bunch telling banks they "had" to loan money to people who couldn't pay it back. If you would get your facts straight- this might be a debate.

    -- Posted by Rome on Tue, Feb 3, 2009, at 8:23 PM
  • Actually we had a surplus and the country was in the green. Now 8 years later we are in debt to ourselves and everyother country. We can only help ourselves. Taxes are being cut for the working class (which is me, yes I work 2 jobs...thank you) For to long the rich have been getting richer and the underpaid are forgotten.

    As far as me getting my facts straight, arguing politics with someone who will never admit they are wrong is pointless.

    The current administration has only been in position for what 2 weeks? How have they put us in any situation?

    But whatever, Im not the one who basically is saying that Bush, Cheney were a good thing. They and their posse have screwed us all. It amazes me when people defend that, its clearly and admission of.....well basically just not having a clue as to whats going on in the world. I think some people think of it as a sport and just root for the team they like, which is unfortunate. Rome if you would like I will drop this whole thing and we can go about our lives. I apologize if any offense was taken and wish you and your family nothing but the best. Different people have different views. Lets just agree to disagree.

    -- Posted by Dodgers Gone on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 7:41 AM
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