Apr 28, 2010 7:04 PM by Kate Mundy
Louisiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving. House Bill 863 passed through a House committee on Tuesday and now heads to the house floor.
Right now in Louisiana, drivers 17-and-under can't use any type of wireless device. This new bill affects every driver who uses a cell phone.
A recent study by Applied Technology Research Corporation found that 1-out-of-10 Louisiana drivers use a cell phone. "I don't text while I'm driving but I do talk on the phone while I'm driving," said Chris Broussard. "I probably talk on the phone while driving more than I talk while just walking or something," explained Colby Richard.
Distracted drivers can be deadly. A highway safety research group at LSU conducted a study last month. It found 16 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes in which drivers were using cell phones in 2009. Cell phone using drivers were also involved in 784 injury crashes and 2380 total crashes in 2009.
KATC talked with Larry Aucoin of Acadiana Safety Assocation. He lost his nine year old son to a motor vehicle accident. These days, he spends most of his time on the road as a driver safety instructor. Aucoin educates his students on the dangers of distracted driving, using videos. "You can't put two thoughts in your mind at the same time it's impossible, so you're doing one thing on the cell phone and you're supposed to be doing driving and here's a wreck," said Aucoin.
State Rep. Charmaine Stiaes, D-New Orleans, is hoping to make our roads safer. Her bill would ban the use of a handheld cell phone for talking or texting and it would make violations a primary offense.
If the bill passes, Louisiana would join 6 other states that prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cell phones while driving. Those states are California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington. All laws are all primary enforcement except Washington.
HB863 allows for the continued use of hands-free devices and two way radios.