INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Governor Eric Holcomb announced his 2020 next level agenda, outlining key issues he hopes to address in the new year. Among them is a change to Indiana's distracted driving law.
Holcomb is pushing for a ban on hand-held devices, something local hospitals have been pushing for since the original law went into effect.
Right now, Indiana law only outlaws texting or emailing while driving. Things like posting to Facebook, sending Snapchats, or even making mobile sports bets are all legal while behind the wheel.
Holcomb hopes a new law might convince people to put down the phone, and one Indiana mother hopes her story will do the same.
"She was a good egg and very much loved and cared for," said Jodi Comer of her daughter Emily. "We miss her”
In December of 2011, 18-year-old Emily Huntington was out shopping with friends. Her mother Jodi was waiting for her to get home and sent her a text.
“She wasn't home yet, they had ran a couple errands and at about 8:10 I sent her a message that said 'Will you be home soon?'” Comer said.
About 20 minutes later, Jodi got a call from her husband saying her daughter had just been in a car accident about two miles from home. The high school senior, set to attend Indiana University, was pronounced dead on scene.
"When the police came to our home, they had told us about the accident and the details of it, and they told us she had been texting and driving and didn’t have her seat belt on,” Comer said. "Ibelieve I'm the one who was sending the text message to Emily when she was killed.”
For the past six years, Jodi has been sharing her story to schools across the state. She’s worked with Ascension St. Vincent’s "Drive Now, Text Later" campaign. The trauma center says it’s something they see all the time.
“It's a new cause of injury that's really come to the forefront in the last 10 to 15 years,” said Trauma Medical Director Lewis Jacobson.
According to their campaign, distracted driving is the number one killer of teenagers in the United States, and 60% of teens admit they do it.
“It's not until you've seen it firsthand or you've experienced it firsthand that you really grasp the dangers of distracted driving,” trauma nurse Kristen Wagner said.
Eight years after her daughter's death, Jodi is hopeful a new hands free driving law will go into effect, and hopeful her story will prevent another young promising life from being taken too soon.
“It's good to have something good from it," Comer said. "It feels better to know their loss means more than just the pain.”