Distracted driving is more prevalent on Louisiana roads than it has ever been. This trend has caused car accidents and insurance premiums to skyrocket. 

Louisiana currently has the second-highest distracted driving rates. A 2021 study conducted by LSU’s Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation shows that there have been 308,939 total crashes involving distracted drivers with 1,470 of these ending in fatalities. These numbers are alarming, and it is vital that you understand Louisiana’s laws regarding distracted driving and how it may affect your personal injury claim.    

Distracted Driving

Louisiana currently has the second-highest distracted driving rates. A 2021 study conducted by LSU’s Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation shows that there have been 308,939 total crashes involving distracted drivers with 1,470 of these ending in fatalities. These numbers are alarming, and it is vital that you understand Louisiana’s laws regarding distracted driving and how it may affect your personal injury claim.    

Louisiana’s Department of Administration (DOA) defines distracted driving as anything that takes ones focus off the road ahead of them. While the cause of distracted driving can stem from a number of factors such as distractions on the road or others in your car, a major cause for the rise in distracted driving crashes has been linked to cell phones. 

Is it Illegal to talk on my cell phone while driving?

The answer to this question depends on some factors. Generally, no it is not illegal to talk on your cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. However, this may change depending on your age or location. 

Louisiana law prohibits anyone who: 

  1. Has a Class E learner’s permit or
  2. Is 17 years old or younger

From operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone to engage in a call. These drivers are however allowed to make hands-free calls, calls while parked, or in certain emergency situations. Violators of this law will be subject to fines that will increase with each offense. 

The other exception to the general rule applies in school zones. Louisiana law prohibits any driver from using a cell phone for any purpose, even to make a call while driving in a school zone unless they are using a hands-free calling feature. These areas have an increased amount of pedestrian traffic which makes them especially suspectable to the consequences of distracted driving. 

The fact that there is no law banning cell phone calls by operators of a motor vehicle for a majority of drivers in most areas does not mean it should be a practiced habit. Drivers talking on cell phones reportedly miss up to 50% of their driving environment including red lights and pedestrians. The effect and prevalence of cell phones in motor vehicles have been a major factor in insurance companies increasing their premiums for all drivers.

What about other Cell phone usage while driving?

While Louisiana has relaxed laws when it comes to cell phone calls while driving, drivers who use their cell phones in other ways while driving. 

Texting or accessing social media while driving is illegal for all drivers except when using a GPS system, or in certain emergency situations. Violators of this law are subject to fines that increase depending on the number of offenses. If the violator was involved in an accident, the fine may double. 

Texting while driving is especially dangerous as it distracts the car’s operator in more than one way. Not only are the driver’s eyes taken off the road, but their hands are also off the wheel and they are not mentally perceiving possible hazards and situations arising on the road in front of them.

Visual distraction is not the only way that a driver’s abilities may be affected. Audio distraction may also cause drivers to ignore an ambulance’s siren or the horn of another vehicle. This is a major reason Louisiana has banned the use of headphones, headsets, or listening devices other than hearing aides that cover both ears of a driver while operating a motor vehicle. Typically, these headphones are connected to a cellphone to listen to music or make a phone call. This is particularly dangerous because it can distract your audio and visual senses. 

How do Distracted Driving Laws Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

Louisiana’s distracted driving laws are criminal in nature. However, this does not mean that they can not play a major role in your civil claim for personal injuries resulting from a car accident. The most common claim brought by a victim of a car accident is the negligent operation of a motor vehicle by the other driver. For a claimant to receive damages in a negligence claim, they must prove:

  1. The other driver had a duty to drive responsibly;
  2. The other driver breached this duty;
  3. The driver’s actions in violating this duty caused the car accident with the victim;
  4. The victim suffered damages as a result of this accident. 

The Louisiana courts have stated that all drivers have a duty to operate and use their automobiles reasonably, and to maintain a proper lookout for hazards, which might pose an unreasonable risk of harm. A driver who is distracted will not be able to satisfy this duty. Therefore, if a claimant can prove that the driver was distracted by a cellphone when the crash occurred, their case will be greatly strengthened. 

If you are a loved one find yourselves the victim of a distracted driver it is important that you first seek medical attention if needed. If you believe that you may have a claim, there are other crucial steps that must be accomplished in a short time period. 

The personal injury attorneys at Scott Vicknair are equipped to guide you in these steps and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Please contact our personal injury lawyers today to help protect your rights and pursue your injury claim. 

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