Indiana governor’s race should include new texting while driving proposal


I’d say farewell to summer, seeing as how it’s after Labor Day weekend and the unofficial so-long to the pools, the ball games and lazier days.

But that’s hard to do, considering kids have been in school for four weeks already. Four weeks.

So I’ll offer this, instead.

We know Eric Holcomb and John Gregg are on the road like crazy these days, working the angles for your vote for governor in November.

Here’s a small proposal as they otherwise watch the Hoosier miles roll by: count the number of cellphones they see in drivers’ hands, the number of heads bowed in midday traffic and the number of drivers drifting across lines in the road.

Then tell the motoring public what they plan to do about it.

That might be a small moment in campaigns wrapped up in job creation, education ideas, highway funding and the overall direction of Indiana after four years of Gov. Mike Pence.

But as the General Assembly shrugs year after year — essentially saying they gave it their best shot on a 2011 texting law that federal courts have wadded up and thrown back in the Statehouse’s face — Indiana drivers are conditioned to believe they can handle a text here, a text there at highway speeds.

They can’t.

And this can’t go on.

Lawmakers seem squeamish about tightening the law — one that now covers texting but not virtually every other hands-on use of today’s smartphones — for fear of some sort of libertarian blowback.

They want proof that a law will instill common sense. They want metrics that texting is a legitimate problem. The obvious anecdotal evidence on the evening commute isn’t enough. (As if a Jan. 16 fatal crash on U.S. 52, tied to texting and driving during a recent Tippecanoe Superior Court 6 bench trial isn’t anecdotal enough. The result there: a $300 fine for a driver whose phone records gave the impression that he was having an ongoing conversation in the moments before rear-ending a driver’s ed car and killing the instructor.)

Take a look around as you drive the state, Mr. Holcomb and Mr. Gregg. What do you see out on the road? What does the anecdotal evidence show? Tell us what you’d be willing to do about it, if anything, once you win the November election.

Dave Bangert is a writer for the (Lafayette) Journal and Courier. Send comments to [email protected].

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