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Apr 27, 2010 5:45 PM by Letitia Walker

Handheld Phone Ban While Drive Clears Committee

Two bills that would ban the use of handheld cell phones while

driving breezed out of the House Transportation Committee Tuesday

morning.

Both would allow drivers to talk using hands-free devices.

One measure (House Bill 863), sponsored by Rep. Charmaine

Stiaes, D-New Orleans, originally applied only to commerical

drivers but was amended to apply to everyone on the road. The other

bill (House Bill 1235) was sponsored by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New

Orleans.

The House committee has approved a similar bill for the past two

years, Badon said, but this year there is a "new carrot dangling

out there" of $94 million in federal money that is available to

states that ban cell phone use while driving by this summer.

Traffic fatalities involving cell phones are on the rise in

Louisiana, claiming 26 lives in the last two years, according Bobby

Breland of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

The bills head next to the full House for debate. If the

proposals pass there, they face tough battles in the Senate, which

has killed similar measures for the last two years.

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