Indiana bans texting, driving

Eric Koch of Indiana HouseIndiana has become the 32nd state to ban text messaging while driving. The law becomes effective July 1, 2011, with fines up to $500.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the texting act into law on May 11.

Specifically, the Indiana distracted driving law prohibits drivers from typing a text message, transmitting the message or reading an electronic mail message. Texting via hands-free or voice-operated technology is allowed.

The law calls for primary enforcement, meaning police can stop and cite violators for that reason alone.

The Indiana texting law has an unusual exemption: communications systems installed in a commercial vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. The law also prohibits police from confiscating telecommunications devices.

Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, pictured, was the legislation’s sponsor.

U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood weighed in after the May 11 signing: “Distraction is still a factor in too many serious crashes. But, the bill signed today by Gov. Daniels will help make Indiana roads safer.”

Drivers under 18 also are prohibited from using cell phones while behind the wheel. The new law essentially expands the ban on teen texting to all drivers.

The Indiana Senate pushed for the original bill (HB 1129) to include a ban on handheld cell phones, but that element was removed in subsequent conference committee negotiations.

That didn’t come as a surprise to State Senator Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, who had predicted the Senate’s addition of a handheld cell phone to HB 1129 would “cause a lot of people to oppose it. The chances of it passing in this manner is pretty slim.”

HB 1129 was approved by the House in an 85-11 vote on Jan. 25 and sent to the Senate. It was amended by the Senate and then approved May 15. The legislation was then rewritten April 26 by a conference committee to remove the Senate’s addition of cell phone ban.

The bill then easily won approval in the House (83-10 vote) but barely got through the Senate (26-24).


  1. Al, I totally agree. The government has been conspiring against us since day one. They want all of us to die so they can reap the taxes!

    Do you ever seriously listen to yourself speak?

    For every fatal wreck that the state “allows (read that, encourages)” though lax distracted driving legislation, the state LOSES a lifetime of tax revenue! That far outweighs any revenue benefits gained by the “hospital bills, doctor bills, repair shop bills and new car purchases, etc.”

    For a single fatality, on average the state loses approximately $35,641.86* (see math below if you want verification).

    To make that much revenue based on a 7% sales tax in Indiana, the bill for all of the wreck related services for a single fatal accident would have to be GREATER than $509,169.42… and that’s just to break even. That’s more than a half-$Million.

    This figure does not even include the tax revenue spent of maintaining EMS, Fire & Rescue, and Highway Patrol units. The more crashes on the roads, fatal or otherwise, the more the state must spend on these expensive services.

    If your interest is in propagating ridiculous conspiracy theories, you may find your ideas more widely accepted with the likes of UFO and fake mood landing “experts”.

    *($34,943 – Indiana average per capita income in 2010) X (state income tax – 3.4 percent of a taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income) X (30 – average taxable working years had fatal accident not occurred) = $35,641.86

  2. Debi Christlieb says:

    This fine should be much more than $500 max!!! Should be $500 minimum! Please increase fine.

  3. Al Cinamon says:

    So Indiana becomes the 32nd State to prove that raising revenue is more important than protecting the public from distracted drivers. They can pat themselves on the back all they want, but the laws that are being passed do nothing to make our roads safer. Quite the contrary, they encourage crashes, which from the State’s viewpoint is good since it will reap tax revenue from all the transactions that flow from a car crash; hospital bills, doctor bills, repair shop bills and new car purchases, etc.

    How else can you explain why legislators all across this land oppose banning talking on a phone while driving? Why do they allow (read that, encourage) drivers to be distracted just because they’re not physically holding the phone? Whenever things don’t make sense, follow the money.

    Now, some may wonder why they issue complete bans for teen drivers. The answer to that is simple. The one thing more important than money to politicians is power. They know that young people don’t vote and that’s why they’re not afraid to sock restrictions on the segment of the motoring public.

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