Distracted driving in Louisiana is a serious issue, as inattentive motorists contribute to the injuries and fatalities of thousands of individuals each year. According to local distracted driving facts gathered by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (HSC), 192 residents were killed by preoccupied motorists between the years 2011 and 2015. While the act of texting and driving is a dangerous and oftentimes deadly behavior, other types of distractions are just as harmful. For instance, potential distractions may include talking on the phone, interacting with other passengers and drinking a beverage while driving.

To prevent future texting and driving accidents in LA, the state bans any form of text-based communication from behind the wheel of a moving motor vehicle. If motorists violate the ban, then they may face severe consequences. However, drivers can reduce potential distractions by planning their trip ahead of time. For instance, if they are feeling too tired or fatigued to drive, then they may choose to get a ride instead. To learn more about driver distractedness, review the information below.

What is distracted driving in Louisiana?

While distracted driving laws in Louisiana may differ from the regulations in other states, most jurisdictions agree that certain types of activities impair a driver’s cognitive, manual and visual abilities. These driving distractions may include any type of activity that diverts a motorist’s attention away from the road ahead. For instance, visual distractions may take a driver’s eyes off the road, while manual distractions may take a motorist’s hands off the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions may take a driver’s mind off the task of driving. While these dangerous distractions often pertain to cellphones, other distracting activities may include programming GPS devices, eating or drinking, communicating with other passengers or digging for lost items in a purse or glovebox.

According to recent facts about distracted driving in LA, driver distractedness contributed to 38 traffic fatalities in 2017, 34 in 2016 and an additional 38 in 2015. In 2017, nine traffic fatalities were cellphone-related, while other types of distractions contributed to the deaths of 29 individuals. In 2016, three deaths were cellphone-related, and an additional three pertained to using another type of electronic device. Moreover, other types of distractions caused 28 deaths.

Distracted Driving Laws in Louisiana for Handheld Devices

Under the Louisiana distracted driving law, motorists who are 18 years of age or older may use hand-held communication devices (including GPS systems) while operating a motor vehicle, as long as they only do so for voice communication purposes. However, all motorists are prohibited from using a mobile device in any way while driving through a posted school zone.

Moreover, special laws against distracted driving in LA pertain to new motorists, regardless of their age. If motorists hold an intermediate driver’s license or a Class E learner’s permit, the state prohibits them from using any type of handheld electronic device while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, even if they are 18 years of age or older. However, talking on the phone while driving a vehicle is permitted if new motorists use a hands-free communication device. Additionally, these laws do not apply in emergency situations.

Texting and Driving Laws in Louisiana

Texting and driving in LA is prohibited, as no motorists may read, write or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle on public roads and highways. The state’s texting while driving laws pertain to all motorists, regardless of age and driver history. Under RS 32:300.5 of the Louisiana State Legislature, all motorists are also prohibited from browsing the internet or posting to social media sites while operating a motor vehicle.

Louisiana Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Any type of cell phone use while driving a vehicle is prohibited amongst novice motorists in the state. As part of the laws against distracted driving in Louisiana, motorists who are 17 years of age or younger may not use any type of wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, unless they need to do so in an emergency. For instance, novice motorists may not make or accept phone calls while driving and they may not read, write or send text messages.

Louisiana Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

Under the Louisiana no texting and driving law, all motorists are prohibited from reading, writing and sending text-based messages from behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders and school bus operators are also prohibited from using handheld mobile devices as part of the new guidelines under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Under the FMCSA, CDL holders may only talk on the phone while driving if they use a hands-free component to do so.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Louisiana

The fine for distracted driving in LA generally ranges between $100 and $500. For instance, possible distracted driving fines may include the following, depending on the specific situation:

  • Any motorists who texts and drives must pay a fine of up to $175 for first offenses and a maximum of $500 for any subsequent offense. If a crash occurs, then these fines may double.
  • New motorists who break the laws on distracted driving must pay a fine of up to $175 for first offenses or a maximum of $500 for subsequent offenses. If the violation results in a collision, then these fines may double.
  • Minors must pay a fine of up to $100 for first offenses and a maximum of $200 for subsequent offenses. If the violation causes an accident, then the fine will double.
  • Commercial drivers may need to pay texting and driving fines of up to $2,750.
  • Drivers who wear a two-sided headset may need to pay a fine of $25. However, additional court fees may also apply.
  • In a school zone, drivers who use a mobile device in any way may need to pay a penalty fee of between $175 and $500.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Louisiana

To prevent future distracted driving accidents in LA, it is important to reduce all visual, manual and cognitive distractions whenever a vehicle is in motion. To reduce potential driver distractions from vehicles, motorists may:

  • Turn their phones and other electronic devices on silent before starting their vehicle.
  • Use a hands-free component if they need to make or receive a phone call.
  • Download a phone-silencing app such as AT&T DriveMode, It Can Wait or Lifesaver.
  • Stow their phones and electronic devices in a hard-to-reach location.
  • Mount their phones to their vehicle’s dashboard if they need to use the device for GPS purposes.
  • Pull their vehicle over whenever they need to make a phone call.
  • Limit social interaction with other passengers, especially conversations that may be stressful or emotional.

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