Negligence on the Rise in Louisiana in Spite of Texting Ban

In Louisiana, a study shows that crash rates continue to rise for drivers under the age of 25 despite outlawing text messaging while driving. In three other states, crash rates were shown to have actually increased after the enactment of anti-texting laws, and, in all four states researched, there were no reductions in crashes after the enactment of these laws.

The study, conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), was carried out in Louisiana, California, Minnesota, and Washington. Researchers compared statistics of crashes before and after the texting bans were enacted in these states. The four states’ data was then compared to the states that do not have texting bans. The results were obviously not the expectation of lawmakers and has left many troubled by what can be done to counter the dangers technology is creating.

HLDI says that one possible explanation for the increasing negligence and rise in crash levels could be that people are continuing to text in spite of these laws.

Adrian Lund, president of the HLDI and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, suggests that noncompliance with the laws specifically is not the reason for the spike in crashes, but perhaps how people may be trying to hide their behavior. He suggests, rather, that the increase in negligence could be due to drivers hiding from plain view their text messaging activities. “If drivers were disregarding the bans, then the crash patterns should have remained steady. So clearly drivers did respond to the bans somehow, and what they might have been doing was moving their phones down and out of sight when they texted, in recognition that what they were doing was illegal. This could exacerbate the risk of texting by taking drivers’ eyes further down from the road and for a longer time.”

The applicable text ban Louisiana statute is Title 32, Chapter 1, Part IV, Subpart L, Sec. 32:300.5 that states: “A.(1) […N]o person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.” The statute provides exceptions to police officers, firefighters, and emergency vehicle operators while engaging in the performance of their duties. The statute also does not apply to those drivers who, among other exceptions listed in the statute, are (1) texting to summon medical or other emergency help, or are (2) using a global positioning device for navigation. Pursuant to the statute, the first violation is punishable by a fine of up to one hundred seventy-five dollars ($175). Subsequent violations are punishable by fines of not more than five hundred dollars ($500). Moreover, by law, any violation is considered a moving violation.

Another Louisiana statute specifically targets minors in Title 32, Chapter 1, Part IV, Subpart L, Sec. 32:300.7: “B. […N]o person who is seventeen years of age or younger shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway in this state while using any wireless telecommunications device to engage in a call or write, send or read a text-based communication.” Like the prior statute, certain exceptions are permitted. For example, a minor can use a wireless communications device (more commonly known as a cell phone or smart phone) to report a (1) traffic accident, (2) medical emergency, (3) serious road hazard, (4) situation where minor’s personal safety is in jeopardy, or (5) criminal act against the minor or another person. A minor may also use a cell/smart phone if the motor vehicle is lawfully parked. Violation of the statute carries fines, which are slightly less than the statute directed to all drivers. The first violation is punishable by a fine of up to one hundred dollars ($100). Subsequent violations are punishable by fines of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). If the minor is involved in a motor vehicle accident while using a wireless communications device, then the applicable fine is doubled. Violations of this statute are considered non-moving violations.

If you or someone you know is involved in an accident in Louisiana, including when the accident is caused by the careless use of cell/smart phones while driving, remember that you will need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to assist you in navigating the complexities of the law so that you are compensated for your injuries. The courts tend to rely heavily upon criminal punishments relating to an accident when coming to their judgment of responsibility in civil proceedings, and anyone injured due to the negligence of another driver, especially one texting, should be compensated for the damage they’ve suffered due to the accident.