Bill that would ban using hand-held devices while driving moves to final passage

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A bill that would affect motorists who use their phones while driving is making it's way through the state legislature.

House Bill 619 would make it illegal to use a hand-held device while driving.

Texting and driving is already against the law, but this new bill would mean you can't even hold a phone in your hand behind the wheel.

"It's a bill to actually protect drivers in our state. Fifteen other states have adopted this law, Georgia was the last one to do it," Representative Mike Huval said.

Huval said he wrote this bill to save lives.

"Currently, our state is 49th in the U.S. for the most distracted drivers. We're the seventh-highest for traffic fatalities in the United States," Huval said.

He said drivers not paying attention to the road is an issue affecting everyone.

"While working on the house side, I spoke with some members, we've all seen people driving distracted. Driving back and forth from Breaux Bridge every morning," Huval said.

Some who've lost loved ones to distracting driving offered emotional testimonies at a Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee meeting.

"I lost my daughter to a driver that was texting the day after Christmas," Suzanne Salter said.

State Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon said insurance rates have always been high in the state, but recently spiked, thanks to this growing problem.

"First and foremost is distracted driving. Not only is it sending insurance premiums through the roof, it's also killing motorists in record numbers," Donelon said.

Some think the bill would make for safer roadways.

"It's going to force drivers to be more cautious and it's going to probably stop a lot of accidents from happening, and I'm from California originally so you know, the bill is already passed there," Devohn Moore said.

"I think it's great," Melvin Joseph said, "People will pay more attention to the road instead of their cell phone."

Others are skeptical about enforcement.

"I think it would be too much of a hassle to actually police. I mean, at this point, it's pretty much too far gone. Pretty much everyone uses their phone," Jeremy Ivory said.

The bill is on its way to the Senate floor for a final vote next week.

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