The Louisiana Senate voted 31-5 to ban the use of handheld cellphones while operating motor vehicles. This long-overdue move puts the state, which traditionally is at or near the top of motor vehicle fatalities and injuries, more in line with most other states’ laws regarding driving and cellphone use. It also syncs with this session’s emphasis on reducing the cost of motor vehicle insurance.

“It is proven that if we address distracted driving, we reduce incidences of accidents and with that comes the reduction in insurance premiums as well,” said Senator Patrick McMath (R-Covington), who is the bill’s sponsor.

Not the first attempt

There have been other bills drafted in the past to outlaw handheld usage. Whereas past measures were stricter, this one is less intrusive. Highlights include:

  • Drivers still able to touch and operate phone
  • Drivers cannot hold or support the device
  • Drivers can tap the phone to answer and hang up calls
  • Drivers can engage Siri, Bluetooth or earbuds

Bill aims at texting

Those who text while driving are much more likely to become involved in an accident than those who do not. Now, this new bill aims at those who text by striking down the current law, which enables drivers to claim that they were using the phone for some other function rather than texting. Because holding the phone is forbidden, the new law eliminates the necessity to prove that the driver was explicitly texting.

New law good for all

Improved safety on the road is always welcome. Now with hands-free technology becoming commonplace, the adjustment by drivers would be minimal while enabling them to keep their eyes on the road better. This ideally means fewer injuries and deaths while perhaps also lowering drivers’ insurance rates. It would be a win-win if this bill passes the State Legislature and is signed by Governor John Bel Edwards.