Bill To Ban “Hand-Held Cell Phones” While Driving Passes House
A recent analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data placed Louisiana second on the list of states with the highest instances of distracted driving-related deaths. It is because of data like this that state officials have stepped up their efforts to restrict specific forms of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. In May 2022, House Bill 376 was approved, which would ‘prohibit the use of cell phones while driving,’ with rare exceptions.
While, as of this writing, it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome of this bill will be, it can potentially open up questions and concerns for those who have been involved in distracted driving-related crashes. If you have been injured in a vehicle collision where you suspect the other driver was distracted, a Shreveport distracted driving attorney may be able to help you decide how best to proceed.
Texting & Driving Is The Most Dangerous
Distracted driving has become increasingly common in recent years, particularly as cellphones and other handheld devices become more and more ubiquitous. While there are countless types of distracted driving – for example, setting or using GPS, eating, talking to passengers, applying makeup or other personal grooming-type activities – it is a truism that texting and driving is seen as the most egregious type of distracted driving. It is one of the few behaviors that takes all types of attention – visual, manual, and cognitive – away from the road all at once.
Louisiana actually has a current law on the books that seeks to regulate distracted driving, but the proponents of HB 376 see the new measure as less unforgiving, as well as punishing the appropriate people. The current law, as of this writing, forbids texting or using social networks ‘while operating a vehicle’ – but the status of “operating a vehicle” is nebulous – for example, if someone is stopped in a parking space, that still technically counts as “operation” and thus the driver could be fined.
If You Have Been Injured
Part of the reason that HB 376 is poised to go to the state Senate is that it clarifies and eases potential issues for those who are charged with the offense. If the bill becomes law, it eliminates potentially severe fines (up to $1,000) and allows offenders to do community service instead of paying up – also, this law would prohibit the arrest of drivers who may not be actually committing a crime (rather, a noncriminal infraction).
While this may seem like having too ‘soft’ a hand on such a potentially serious offense, it does also clarify the offender’s status. If someone has been fined under this law for driving while distracted, it means that they have broken a law designed to protect a class of people, which may make it easier for an injured plaintiff to establish that person’s negligence in court. Every case is different, but if you are harmed by someone else’s distracted driving, it is possible that you might be able to use Louisiana’s texting and driving law in your favor against an allegedly negligent driver.
The odds of HB 376 passing into law are good, but as of this writing, nothing concrete has occurred yet. If you have been struck by a vehicle, and you believe the driver was distracted, contact a Shreveport distracted driving attorney to help you decide how best to proceed. Rice & Kendig can help get the relevant records and focus on the legal process while you put your mind to your physical recovery. Contact our office today at 318-222-2772 for a free consultation.