LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — If you’re driving in Louisiana, be prepared to keep your hands off your phone. A new law could soon be in place making it illegal to hold your phone for almost any purpose while driving.
Currently, state law only makes it illegal to type text messages while driving or hold your phone in a school zone. Other uses like browsing social media, looking up information, or even watching videos are loopholes.
“It’s too easy for a person to say, ‘No, I wasn’t texting, so that’s why we needed to bring handheld into the picture,” argued Mike Huval, State Representative for District 46.
The Breaux Bridge native wrote House Bill 565 which makes holding a phone while your car is in drive a punishable offense, but he says it’s not about the fines.
“It’s to bring safety to driving that’s all we’re trying to do here,” Huval said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. Half of the 48 states who have texting bans have expanded them to include all handheld cellphone use says the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” expressed Euel Walker, a truck driver from Lafayette. “I see people texting and distracting them from the road. You could lose your life, you know.”
Officials recommend if you can, use voice commands or Bluetooth to be hands-free. Otherwise, just wait.
Borges agrees and encouraged, “Be patient. Just be patient. I know it’s a law, and it’s always inconvenient in the beginning, and it sounds like it came against us, but let’s look at the big picture. I think the safety of everyone comes first.”
If the hands-free bill becomes law it would go into effect August first with a warning given instead of citations until the start of 2022. The bill is out of committee and scheduled for debate on the house floor Monday, May 17.