Everyone seems to agree that distracted driving is a significant problem in Louisiana, and one state lawmaker wants to do something about it.

State Rep. Mike Huval of Breaux Bridge introduced a bill yesterday that would strengthen the ban on phone use while driving.

House Bill 580 would basically help get phones physically out of the hands of drivers. Hands-free communication would still be allowed.

The bill would also still allow drivers to make calls if needed to report a traffic crash or medical emergencies.

Rep. Huval along with AAA Louisiana Vice President Angela Nelson talked about the proposed bill on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol yesterday morning.

“Current Louisiana law prohibits drivers from texting while driving, but as you’ve heard, there’s enough exceptions and loopholes to make the law virtually impossible to enforce,” said Angela Nelson, vice president of AAA.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reports that 193 people were killed from 2016-2020 because of distractions while another 23,010 people were injured in 2020 alone.

Rep. Huval's bill would require an officer to visually confirm a driver using their phone. Depending on the number of offenses, the driver can face fines anywhere from $50 to $300 or 15 to 60 hours of community service.

SHSPhotography, Getty Stock / ThinkStock
SHSPhotography, Getty Stock / ThinkStock

The bill would also require racial data to be collected and presented annually to the governor, Senate president, and House speaker to avoid racial profiling.

“We want protection; we do not want this tool to be used to racially profile,” said Rep. Huval. “We want it to protect people’s lives. That’s the main reason for it.”

This isn't the first time Huval has proposed such a bill. Last year, a similar legislature made it through the State House but failed in the State Senate.

However, Huval feels that the way the bill is written this year it will get the votes it needs to pass.

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