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On June 8, the Louisiana legislature voted against Bill 565 that would have given penalties to drivers that texted while behind the wheel.

WHAT THE FACTS SHOW

A report in 2018 collected and documented information on car accidents and the individuals involved in them. It evaluated 1.6 million crashes and assessed 390,000 injuries. In addition, the analysis provided a detailed look into accidents related to cell phone usage.

The report indicated that a person is 24 times more likely to crash if operating a vehicle while texting. A person is six times more likely to crash while texting than if they were driving drunk. The study found that 14% of all fatalities had a direct correlation to cell phone usage, with 1 in 4car wrecks caused by texting and driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,640 people died from distracted drivers in 2016. It is estimated that when a person reads or sends a text from behind the wheel, five seconds are taken off the road.

Given the compilation of data, Louisiana tried to implement guidelines to herd distracted drivers off the road. Monroe, Louisiana Rep. Mike Huval (R-46) introduced a bill to address the issue, but this isn’t his first attempt to pass legislation.

“We just ran out of time. We came so close. It just ran out of time,” Huval told Scriberr News, “We were unable to work out some of the details.” 

Although the bill did not pass, Huval expressed his desire to continue and work with other state representatives to try and pass the bill next year.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia face penalties or bans associated with texting while driving. Louisiana also wanted to implement restrictions on motorists using their cell phones.

Access of phones would still be permissible through the car speakers or with hands-free units. The bill placed a restriction that limited the manners in which a person could operate a phone while driving. However, Huval said the bill was a collective attempt to eliminate accidents for all motorists and not just teenagers.

WHO THE BILL WOULD HAVE PROTECTED

The bill in Louisiana was partly targeted at reducing car accidents associated with teen driving. The initiative was backed by data that indicated teen driving was an issue. In 2020, Forbes reported the leading cause of death among teenagers was car accidents.

The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics also published an article about car crash deaths among teenagers as the first study to investigate deaths among 16 to 19-year-olds from 2007-2017. It investigated a total of 38,215 drivers.

The results suggested there was a reduction in teen related fatalities when texting was restricted.

THE PROBLEM FACED

The Black Lives Matter movement has increased pressure on police and lawmakers to limit police interactions. Some believe that enacting a ban that would allow police officers to stop drivers because of cell phone usage would reduce personal freedoms. 

Rep. Huval was asked if this was a factor for why the bill failed to pass. To which he responded that the bill incorporated protocols that would address any racial profiling that became an issue.

“They would review any suspicious behavior that would suggest racial profiling,” Huval told Scriberr News. 

He was disappointed that the bill didn’t pay but specified that there would be another chance in a year. When he was asked if he was disappointed he said.

“It isn’t something that I am devastated by but sure, it is disappointing.”

Written ByMax Baumeister

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