Grieving mother, state rep. push lawmakers for distracted driving legislation

Jill Biddle brought her daughter's wrecked car to the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. She and several lawmakers want people to see the effects that distracted driving can cause. (WLFI Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — News 18 has told you her powerful story before, but today one mother is sending her message statewide.

Jill Biddle lost her daughter, Maria Droesch, in a distracted driving crash in June 2016. Since then, she’s brought her daughter’s severely damaged car to local events trying to raise awareness on the dangers of texting and driving.

On Tuesday, Biddle brought the wrecked car to the Indiana Statehouse. She and several lawmakers want people to see the effects that distracted driving can cause.

They hope seeing the crash wreckage and hearing the heartfelt words of a grieving mother just might be what lawmakers need to pass legislation on the topic.

“She should be telling this story, not me,” Biddle said about her daughter.

It’s getting more and more difficult for Biddle each time she hauls out her daughter’s mangled vehicle.

“In the beginning, it was a coping because I knew a part of her was still here with me, with the car,” Biddle explained.

But now, nine months later.

“The car itself is getting hard to be around,” she said. “And I just, you know, it just relives the day.”

Why bring it back out? News 18 asked. Why put yourself through that heartache?

“I don’t want people to go through what we’ve gone through,” Biddle said. “Her birthday is in a couple of weeks, and it’s really hard right now. … She would have been 18.”

Biddle hopes the presentation at the Indiana Statehouse will allow her to get a break from reliving this tragedy over and over again. This display has the power to inspire lawmakers to require people to only use hands-free communication devices while driving.

It’s something State Rep. Milo Smith has been trying to do for his friend who was killed by a distracted driver.

“We have to protect the public, and I believe this is protecting the public not infringing on your rights,” Smith said.

Smith’s bill passed through the House last session, but died in the Senate. This year it didn’t even get a hearing.

“I’m trying to get everybody fired up, including the Senate side,” he said. “And, hopefully, we can get this out next year.”

But until then, Biddle asks this of Hoosiers. If not for yourself, for others on the road – stop texting and driving.

“It would be a good favor for her [Maria], keeping her memory alive, and thanking her for keeping you alive because you’re doing what you need to do,” Biddle said.

When asked how long the wrecked car display will stay at the Statehouse, Smith said he doesn’t want to move it until someone makes him.