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Louisiana laws take aim at distracted driving

Distracted driving due to smartphone use has become a scourge on the roads and highways of Louisiana. To fight this growing menace the Louisiana Legislature has passed a number of laws designed to keep drivers' attention on the road.

Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, because it simultaneously takes a driver's hands, eyes and attention off the task of driving. Like many other states, Louisiana has enacted a complete ban on texting behind the wheel. Texting and driving is a primary offense in Louisiana, which means it can be the sole reason for a traffic stop.

Other Louisiana laws take aim at other forms of electronic distraction. Driving while wearing headphones or a headset is illegal in Louisiana. The state also prohibits use of a "hands on" cell phone by new drivers -- those with a learner's permit or an intermediate license. Drivers under the age of 17 may not use a cell phone or any similar wireless device to send or receive phone calls or texts.

Distracted driving is negligent driving. Under Louisiana law a driver who causes an accident because he or she failed to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles, traffic signals or road signs may be held legally responsible for any resulting injuries. In personal injury cases the injured party's lawyer can demand the defendant's cell phone records through the discovery process. If the records show the defendant was using his or her phone at the time of the crash, those records could be compelling evidence of liability.

Source: Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, "Traffic Safety Laws," accessed Dec. 11, 2016

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