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Louisiana one step closer to being a ‘hands free’ state

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 23:34:56-04

At the State Capitol, a hands-free cell phone bill is now on its way to the full house. The bill, proposed by Breaux Bride representative Mike Huval, will be considered next week.

The bill states that drivers are prohibited from having a cell phone up to their ears or in their hand while driving. It would also require drivers to use Bluetooth or other wireless systems.

That proposal is catching the attention of local law enforcement. Duson Police Chief, Kip Judice, says he stands in full support of the bill.

“Law enforcement officers are tired of knocking on peoples doors and saying someone’s not coming home tonight because they were involved in a motor vehicle accident. A lot of those accidents, most accidents, are based on a distraction,” Judice said.

Judice says Louisiana law hasn’t kept up with technology. State Representative Mike Huval says his bill would change that.

“I saw a safety issue with people driving with their cell phones. I actually witnessed a lady drive through a traffic light in downtown Breaux Bridge, as she was driving her van, she was speaking on her phone and crossed the traffic light and was involved in a traffic accident,” Huval said.

Huval says he’s noticed drivers swerving into his lane while talking on their phones during his daily commute to Baton Rouge for the session. That made him realize something needed to change.

“None of us want to lose a family member or a friend in an accident that could have been avoided, especially with someone being inattentive by having a phone in their hands. It’s a convenience that we all have, radio was a convenience we once had. It’s become a convenience that takes away our thinking while we’re driving,” Huval said.

It’s a bill Judice says is long overdue.

“The distractions of cell phones and text messages and emails and getting on Facebook are just too rapid right now so it’s important at this time,” Judice said.

Right now, Lousiana has laws banning texting while driving and requiring hand free cellphone use in school zones.

If the bill passes, Louisiana will join 18 other states with similar legislation. Arizona was the latest state to update their laws.