Lawmakers should consider a hands-free electronics bill

Taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds to send or read a text on your phone while driving 55 mph is the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That’s a scary thought.

Unfortunately, too many people are guilty of distracted driving — either texting or talking on a phone, for example — and not paying close enough attention to road conditions. Statistics show that.

In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some states have cracked down on drivers for demonstrating distracted driving, levying fines that cause the pocketbook to hurt. The intent is to discourage such behavior and in the process improve safety on the roads.

Indiana needs to follow suit. Unfortunately, legislation that could have addressed this safety issue never gained traction.

State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, introduced House Bill 1255 during the legislature’s recently completed session, which would have required all drivers to use hands-free electronic communication devices. However, the bill was sent to the House Committee on Roads and Transportation, where committee chairman Ed Solliday, R-Valparaiso, never scheduled a committee hearing for it.

That’s unfortunate. The legislation should have had a chance to be heard and its merits debated, because distracted driving is a serious issue that affects many people of all ages.

We hope that this proposal gets a chance to be heard and acted upon during next year’s legislative session. State lawmakers should do what they can to help ensure the safety of motorists on the state’s roadways.