Police say social media while driving ban will save lives

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 31 at 11:01 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- It's already against the law to text and drive in Louisiana. Starting Aug. 1, a new law kicks in that bans drivers from using social media sites behind the wheel.

"Distracted driving is a problem that we've seen across the state, and it seems to be growing," said Louisiana State Police Trooper Melissa Matey.

While you're driving on the road during daylight hours at any given moment, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a cell phone. That's according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

On Wednesday night, across metro New Orleans, Eyewitness News discovered the roadways weren't much different.

"Anytime you become distracted, 37 percent of your brain power is taken off the road. Which means you can get into a crash very quickly, you could possibly hit a pedestrian," Matey said.

It is already against the law to text and drive in Louisiana, and if you're under 17, you can't use a cell phone behind the wheel.

On Aug. 1, a new law kicks in banning all drivers from using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, voted in favor of the change.

"Because of the new technology we had to come up with some laws that address web-based access, posting and reading of wireless communication web-based websites," Badon said.

So, will offenders really be caught? Louisiana State Police confirms like the current texting ban, this newest law will be enforced.

"When it comes to serious injuries and fatal crashes, we do subpoena phone records and that's going to definitely play a huge part into our investigation as to how the crash happened," Matey said.

Now that it will be officially against the law to Tweet, Facebook or Instagram behind the wheel, Badon says next session he will try again to pass a hands-free cell phone law, which he believes is long overdue.

"Nobody has the right to put other peoples lives in danger," Badon said. Violators of the new law will face a traffic fine of up to $175 for the first offense and additional offenses will carry a $500 fine. Those are the same penalties now in place for texting while driving.

 

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