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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Texting while driving

You see them on the road every day in Louisiana – distracted drivers. They are talking on their phones, texting, programing their GPS, etc. What are they not doing? Driving safely by giving their full attention to the road ahead. Here's what you need to know about these dangerous habits.

The consequences of distracted driving

The numbers are bad and getting worse when it comes to distracted driving accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 3,142 people on the nation’s roads in 2019, an increase of 10% over 2018.

In Louisiana, meanwhile, traffic officials say distracted driving has become a “dangerous epidemic,” with drivers using their cell phones an average of 2.4 times every time they get behind the wheel. The state’s Highway Safety Commission blames distracted driving for an average of 38 deaths and 5,400 injuries a year.

By law, Louisiana bans drivers from:

  • Reading, writing, or sending text messages
  • Engaging in social media
  • Using cell phones and other devices in active school zones

In addition, drivers younger than 16 are not allowed to use any wireless devices, even hands-free. Drivers younger than 18 and those with learner’s permits are prohibited from using cell phones. The same applies for one year for any new driver of any age.

The penalties for distracted driving

Louisiana takes distracted driving seriously. Even if you are obeying all other traffic codes, an officer can stop you for texting while driving. The result can be the stiffest penalties among surrounding states:

  • Adult drivers face a $500 fine for the first offense. Second and other subsequent violations can result in $1,000 fines and a license suspension of 60 days.
  • Drivers younger than 18 face a $250 fine for the first offense. Second and other subsequent violations can mean $500 fines and a license suspension of 60 days.

By comparison, the fines in neighboring states are as low as $25 in Texas. Additionally, Louisiana doubles the fines if the texting offense results in a car accident. You also will see an increase in your insurance rates and are subject to court costs and administrative fees.

Even so, traffic safety advocates do not believe the state’s laws are harsh enough to deter distracted driving. As a result, some state lawmakers are pushing to ban drivers from using all handheld cell phones.

Taking action against distracted drivers

Despite distracted driving being a violation of both state law and common sense, some drivers still believe they can multitask behind the wheel. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you can face major medical expenses and other costs associated with your crash.

You could be out of work for an extended period, unable to pay your bills and support your loved ones. Your legal struggle will be complicated by the fact that the person responsible for your injuries is highly unlikely to admit any fault. It’s more likely that they will blame you for the accident.

Adding to your stress, an insurance company may pressure you to accept a lowball financial settlement because they know you are desperate for money. Or, they might say the whole accident was your fault and offer you nothing at all.  That's when getting an experienced car accident lawyer in your corner can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim.

At The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC in New Orleans, attorney John S. Williams has been fighting for the rights of people just like you since founding his own firm in 2012. He will guide you through every step of the legal process, providing you with compassionate and professional service while he aggressively pursues justice and a fair financial settlement. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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