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Advocates call for tougher distracted driving laws

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Apr. 8, 2015)– Why doesn't Indiana have tougher laws on distracted driving? During this month of April- Distracted Driving Awareness Month- some advocates and lawmakers say Indiana's law needs to change.

One lawmaker filed a bill this session that would have made it illegal to use your cell phone in the car, unless you’re using a hands-free device.

"We need to make sure we have our laws keep up with our technology," said the bill's author, state Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon.

But Miller's bill and two other similar measures were not even considered by lawmakers this session.

"I just feel this topic needs to be talked about," said Miller. "Whether it's my bill or a summer study (committee), our lawmakers need to recognize that currently the only things illegal are sending a text or email. It doesn't say anything about surfing the web, checking 'Gas Buddy' or maps, or God forbid, Candy Crush."

While most states (including Indiana) have a texting ban, Indiana does not require hands-free phone calls, though nearly 20 other states do have such a law.

Still, even that might not be enough to satisfy advocates with the National Safety Council, which recently produced a new PSA for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“We still have a number of states that allow cell phone conversations if they’re hands free (but) that’s really sending the wrong message to people,” said the organization’s president, Deborah Hersman in an interview with FOX59. “Many people think that hands free is safe. But hands free is not risk free.”

“I do think there’s a broader issue of distracted driving that we need to talk about,” said Miller. “I think people need to realize when you’re behind the wheel, your focus need to be 100% on the road.”

Sen. Miller says he’s not sure what the exact language should be- but he says he hopes lawmakers can do something about it in the future.