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Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Louisiana?

Posted in Distracted Driving,Car Accidents on March 12, 2020

Whether you are a Louisiana resident or plan to travel through the state, you want a solid understanding of local distracted driving ordinances to help ensure that you remain in compliance with the law. Distracted driving can substantially raise accident risk, both by increasing the likelihood that a driver will inadvertently cause an accident and by decreasing the likelihood that a driver will respond properly to potential hazards on the road. A quick review of Louisiana’s distracted driving laws can help you prepare to maintain safe driving practices as you travel through the state.

Cell Phone Use on Louisiana Roads: An Overview

In 2008, Louisiana passed a resolution that prevents drivers from texting and driving. Louisiana drivers cannot:

Write, send, or read text-based communications. Not only does that prevent Louisiana drivers from texting and driving, it prevents them from checking email, social media, and messaging apps while on the road.

Talk on the phone in school zones during posted school hours. In school zones, speeds reduce and the rules increase to help protect Louisiana students and their families.

Emergency responders can use their phones in their vehicles, including sending text-based communications, if necessary to provide aid. Drivers can also still use the phone’s GPS while behind the wheel. However, those laws are subject to change: recently, the Louisiana House has approved a ban on cell phone use at all while driving, which will permit police officers to write tickets if they see drivers with their phones in hand.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

Texting and driving pulls the driver’s attention away from the road for several seconds. Distracted driving usually falls into three categories: manual, visual, and mental distraction. Manual distraction pulls the driver’s hands from the wheel, while visual distraction takes the driver’s eyes off the road. Mental distraction takes the driver’s attention from the road.

Texting and driving involves all three types of distraction:

  • Drivers must remove their eyes from the road to look at the cell phone: a distraction that can substantially increase accident risk, since drivers not only have the potential to lose track of the placement of their own vehicle on the road, but to miss the presence of other vehicles. Smartphones also require visual distraction while actively texting, particularly since they have no buttons that drivers can easily find by touch alone.
  • Drivers must take at least one hand off the wheel to answer a text message. Many drivers may attempt to remove both hands from the wheel for a few seconds in order to send a text message faster. If a hazard arises during that period, drivers must add to their response time by getting their hands back on the wheel before they can react to a potential emergency.
  • Drivers remain cognitively distracted while focused on text messages instead of the road. Drivers may need to think about what the message says, whether that means processing a question or thinking about what the person who messaged them had to say. Some text messages may also cause an emotional response that usually leads to further distraction.

Distracted drivers can drift out of their own lanes, fail to note the presence of red lights and stop signs, or ignore the presence of other individuals around them. Distracted drivers also have a higher probability of failing to note bicyclists, motorcycles, and pedestrians around them, since those smaller vehicles do not fit the larger visual profile offered by standard passenger vehicles.

Decreasing Phone Use While Driving

Today’s drivers are more likely to multitask than ever. In 2017, as many as 90% of drivers confessed to still using their cell phones while driving, even with full knowledge of how unsafe these actions can prove.  Many people attempt to multitask while behind the wheel, handling phone conversations, taking text messages, and even checking email or social media. Drivers stuck in traffic may give in to temptation even more often. To help decrease your temptation to use your phone, or to help teens remember not to use their phones while driving, try some of these strategies.

Install an app that tracks or prevents cell phone use while driving. Some apps will stop your phone from sending and receiving text messages while driving, which can help prevent distraction. These apps usually kick in when the phone travels at higher than a pre-set speed, providing a much greater level of safety on the road. Teen drivers, in particular, may benefit from these apps, since parents cannot always keep track of what drivers do in their vehicles.

Place your phone where you cannot reach it. Instead of keeping your phone in your pocket or otherwise in easy reach while you drive, place your phone out of reach. Leave it in the back seat or in the trunk. This simple strategy can help prevent you from being distracted.

Pay particular attention to your driving. Once you develop a habit of checking your phone while driving, it grows easier to continue using your phone while behind the wheel. You may become bored, get distracted, or simply want to check something for “just a minute.” As a result, however, you may grow distracted and cause severe injury.

If you must use your cell phone, pull over. Find a safe location, either at the side of the road in a safe area or a gas station or business. Most of the time, when faced with the need to pull off the road, you may decide that your message can wait.

Keep your eyes off your smartwatch and other devices, too. Smartwatches may actually prove more distracting than cell phones on the road, since you must look down at your wrist, read smaller text, and wait for the message to scroll across the screen.

Whether you face texting and driving charges or you suffered an accident with a person texting and driving, you may need legal support to help manage the aftermath. Contact the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC at 504-500-5000 today for a consultation.