Driving while using a hand-held cellphone would become a primary traffic offense under legislation endorsed by a Louisiana House committee Tuesday.
The state House Transportation Committee approved the measure, without opposition, shipping it to the full House for further debate.
House Bill 695 sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, started out banning use of all cell phones while driving. “That was not my intent,” Badon said.
In committee, Badon amended the bill to allow hands-free devices.
Under HB695, a violator could be pulled over and get a ticket without having to commit another driving offense.
The committee earlier approved legislation which would make using a cellphone while driving a secondary offense. That means a motorist would have to commit another offense such as running a red light or improper lane usage in order to get ticketed.
House Bill 787 sponsored by state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, is pending House consideration.
“I’ve seen enough people playing on the phone just about to kill people,” said state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin.
Badon said there is plenty of evidence that cellphone bans reduce death and accident rates in states where they have been implemented. He said there are now ten states with the prohibition.