Louisiana House Passes Ban on Handheld Phone Use While Driving
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Handling your cell phone while driving is already illegal in 24 states, and Louisiana is one step closer to joining that group after the State House passed a bill banning the activity on May 19.
Learn more about Louisiana House Bill 565, the dangers of distracted driving, and how using a cell phone while driving can affect your car insurance.
Using your phone will driving is both dangerous and expensive | Twenty20
Louisiana’s new bill, explained
Republican Rep. Mike Huval has tried to ban handheld cell phone use while driving in Louisiana for years, according to Louisiana Illuminator.
He’s met opposition from some Democrats who’ve questioned whether the measure would improve safety, and suggested the bill would financially burden poor Louisianians by requiring them to buy new equipment.
“This bill doesn’t keep anyone from using their cell phone while driving,” Huval told the Louisiana House transportation committee. “All we’re trying to do is make it so they do it in a safer manner.”
Despite the pushback, House Bill 565 passed the House with a 77-20 vote.
The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and returned to the House before it can be signed into law by the governor. If it succeeds, handheld phone use will be illegal in Louisiana by January 1, 2022.
Why states are targeting cell phone use while driving
Distracted driving has been on the rise ever since smartphones gained widespread usage. And while the number of crashes caused by distracted drivers is difficult to estimate, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says studies have consistently linked texting or using a phone to increased risk.
The CDC says texting while driving is especially dangerous because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention—skills also needed for driving a car.
In 2019 alone, 36,096 people died in the United States from car accidents, 727 of whom were from Louisiana. Of the total number of fatalities, 3,142 Americans died in accidents in which distracted driving was deemed a contributing factor.
Even if you haven’t been directly impacted, accidents caused by handheld devices result in more insurance claims, meaning higher premiums for all drivers.
How using your cell phone while driving can affect your insurance
Besides raising the average price of car insurance, handheld phone use can also have a negative impact on your personal premiums.
As mentioned above, driving while distracted increases your chances of being at fault for an accident, one of the biggest factors that cause car insurance to go up. But it also increases your chances of getting ticketed. If you’re not paying full attention to the road, you’re more likely to run a red light, fail to yield to a pedestrian, or commit any other traffic violation.
Any infraction on your driving record will inevitably make its way to your insurer and cause your premiums to rise.
How to avoid getting a ticket for using your cell phone while driving
The most obvious way to avoid being fined for any type of distracted driving is, of course, to not get distracted while driving. This is a lot easier said than done these days, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Thankfully there are lots of tools to help you keep your hands off your phone while at the wheel. Most cell phones come with a “driving mode” that keeps updates and calls from grabbing your attention while you’re on the road. The safest thing for you to do is to turn the tool on and wait to respond to anyone until after you’ve parked your car.
Depending on the length of your trip and the work you do, it might not be realistic to completely refrain from using your cell phone while driving. The next best thing would be to use hands-free calling options.
Many car models allow you to connect your device to the car’s stereo through Bluetooth technology, allowing you to answer your phone by voice or through the car’s manual controls. If you drive an older vehicle, a Bluetooth adapter will work just as well and only costs a few dollars.
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