Rep. Smith: Teenís wrecked car at Statehouse serves as stark warning for distracted drivers

Posted by: Nick Seifer  | Tuesday, March 28, 2017 3:30 pm

STATEHOUSE (March 28, 2017) — A Clinton County family parked their 17-year-old daughter’s mangled car at the Statehouse today to warn Hoosiers of the dangers of texting while driving.

As April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month, State Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) joined Jill Biddle of Kirklin to call attention to the issue with the goal of saving lives. Biddle lost her daughter, Maria Droesch, 17, in a tragic car crash in June 2016 after Maria veered into oncoming traffic while texting and driving.

Maria’s last text was to her mother about making plans with her friends, but it was never sent. She was only 10 minutes from home when she crossed the center line and struck a pick-up truck. Biddle now uses her daughter’s wrecked car to send a message that driving distracted – even for just a few seconds – can be a life-altering decision.

“We bring this car all over the state to show people what texting and driving can lead to,” Biddle said. “If we can help save just one life, then we have accomplished our goal.”

Indiana has a statewide texting while driving ban for all drivers, and prohibits drivers under 18 years of age from using handheld and hands-free cellular devices except to dial 911. Despite these laws, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found 10 percent of teens involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash.

“Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. Texting and driving remains a significant problem, and we have to do more to educate our friends and families about its dangers,” Smith said. “The Biddle family is using their personal tragedy to help send a message and warn others that driving distracted isn’t worth risking your life or someone else’s life.”

Smith authored legislation this year, which would have required all Hoosier drivers to use only hands-free devices. The bill didn’t receive a hearing, but Smith said he would try again next year.

Biddle uses her daughter’s crashed vehicle at local schools and other highly visible places to raise awareness for the dangers of driving distracted. Her daughter’s vehicle will be on display along Senate Avenue next to the Statehouse in Indianapolis throughout the day.

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State Rep. Milo Smith represents House District 59, which includes portions of Bartholomew County.