Causeway cellphone safety bill draws early opposition

Published: Feb. 25, 2015 at 10:09 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Too much government intrusion! That is what State Representative Tim Burns (R-Mandeville) says some constituents are saying about a bill he plans to file this spring banning hand-held cell phones on the Causeway Bridge.

It's already illegal to text and drive on the Causeway and Burns hopes to make it against the law to talk and drive without a hands-free device.

"There's a time and a place for government regulation," Burns said. "I don't like it all the way. This is a time that the government should regulate not only for your safety, but for the safety of fellow motorists. This is, I think, an appropriate form of government regulation."

Since 1994, 13 vehicles have gone over the southbound lanes of the bridge, resulting in 11 deaths. Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechau says at least two of those accidents were attributed to someone reaching for a phone or some other device.

Drivers in Mandeville said they support Burns plan. "It's a safety issue," said Mandeville resident Jack Ramirez.

"I think it's a real good idea," said Mandeville resident William Nichols. "saving your life and my life is not politics."

Burns' ban is modeled after cell phone bans in school zones. The first offense would bring a $250 fine. The second offense has a $500 pricetag.

Burns hopes the limited scope of this ban will make it a bill that makes it through the house. Statewide cellphone bans have failed to make it through the legislature for the last several year.

The 2015 Legislative Session convenes April 13.

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