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Apr 13, 2012 11:34 PM by Shawn Kline

Cell phones: push to make talking and driving illegal

Two years ago, the hot topic was texting and driving. Louisiana joined a number of states in banning texting behind the wheel last year.

Now, there's a bill on the table that would rewrite that law, making it illegal to use ANY wireless device on the road.

Here's the law right now: if you're on the phone and following all the rules of the road, you wouldn't get a ticket.

Here's how it would change if some lawmakers have it their way:
Talking on the phone while driving would become a primary offense. That means you can be pulled over for just having the phone in your hand.

Let's face it, we've all seen it.

"Everybody does it," Jordan Smith said.

"Oh, I see the car swerve when they're on the phone," Wilton Gaspard said.

Gaspard is one of many Lafayette residents telling KATC talking on the phone should be illegal.

"I honk at them, stop!" Gaspard says, "get off the phone, stop!"

Thousands of accidents nationwide are attributed to cell phone usage. Texting and driving is already illegal in Louisiana but law enforcement officers say talking and driving is dangerous too.

"Your mind can only be split so many times," Capt. Kip Judice said. "Driving gets pushed back by all these other distractions."

A Lafayette Sheriff's Deputy, Judice sees cell phones as a hazard on the road.

Already, more than 10 other US states have adopted policies making driving with handheld devices illegal in any capacity.
If passed, House Bill 695 would make Louisiana the next state to have such a law.

"You shouldn't look for it and answer it." Britney Joseph explained, "but if it's on your lap or in your purse, then yeah, you can grab it."

Not everyone thinks using the cell phone and driving should be a primary offense. Both Jospeh and Smith say it shouldn't be on the books, it should be common sense.

"I don't think it should be illegal," Smith said. "People should just be more careful."

The House Transportation Committee will review the bill on Monday before passing it to the house for a vote.

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