On May 23, the Louisiana House passed a bill prohibiting drivers from using a cell phone while behind the wheel, according to The Daily Advertiser.
Known as House Bill 376 it was initially voted down in March. But Republican Acadiana Rep. Mike Huval was determined to bring it forward once again.
If passed by the state Senate, Louisiana will join 24 other states that ban motorists from using handheld cell phones, notes the report.
Under the proposed legislation, law enforcement would be authorized to pull over drivers they see using a cell phone. Offenders would receive a maximum fine of $100.
However, violators would not be subject to arrest and would not have their license revoked, as is the case in some states with stricter penalties. Moreover, the new law would also expire after two years unless lawmakers renew it, notes the report.
Currently in Louisiana, handheld cell phone use by drivers is banned in school zones and carries a first-offense fine of $500. The new bill now awaits debate in the Senate.
There were 914 crashes and 997 fatalities on Louisiana highways in 2021— an increase from 762 crashes and 828 fatalities in 2020, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development. Risky driving behaviors, such as impaired and distracted driving, remain the cause of most highway fatalities, according to authorities.
Nationwide, 3,142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2020 alone.