La. leaders introduce bill to crack down on distracted driving
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We all know how distracting phones can be, especially while on the road. There were calls for action on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol on Tuesday, April 11, as state Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge, introduced his bill to reduce distracted driving.
“Current Louisiana law prohibits drivers from texting while driving, but as you’ve heard, there’s enough exceptions and loopholes to make the law virtually impossible to enforce,” said Angela Nelson, vice president of AAA.
According to AAA, drivers today are using their phones as maps, to video chat, to stream movies, to check social media, and even shop online.
Nearly four out of 10 deadly crashes in Louisiana involve a distracted driver.
“Nationally, nearly 10 people are killed every day because of another driver’s selfish choice to focus on their phone instead of the road in front of them,” added Nelson.
Rep. Huval’s bill would require an officer to visually confirm the driver using the phone but stops short of allowing the officer to arrest them. Instead, depending on the number of offenses, the driver can face anywhere from $50 to $300 or 15 to 60 hours of community service. It would also require racial data to be collected and presented annually to the governor, Senate president, and House speaker to avoid any racial profiling.
“We want protection; we do not want this tool to be used to racially profile,” said Rep. Huval. “We want it to protect people’s lives. That’s the main reason for it.”
Susan Salter and her husband tragically lost her daughter, Nicole, in 2014 just one day after Christmas to a driver who was texting. Nicole had three children.
“We’ve experienced the 2-year-old baby that doesn’t even remember his mother,” said Salter. “The middle son actually began slapping himself in the face because he didn’t know how to cope with it. The oldest was having anxiety attacks at the age of eight so bad that we had to call EMS because she couldn’t breathe. This is something that is never-ending. This impacts us forever.”
Although similar legislation failed last year, Rep. Huval feels confident this bill is written in a way that will get the votes it needs.
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