BATON ROUGE — Do you know how to react during a traffic stop?
A bill that would require drivers' education courses to include training for young drivers on the preferred etiquette when pulled over won final passage here Friday, while a second is expected to win final approval Sunday.
House Bill 241 by Rep. Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine, and Senate Bill 17 by Sen. Ryan Gattie, R-Bossier City, are similar in their goals and requirements.
Both lawmakers believe the training can help diminish the chance that a routine traffic stop escalates into violence and harm either the occupants or the officers.
"It's timely and necessary," said Gatti, whose bill has cleared the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the full House Sunday.
"With many of the events that have happened across the country and the state I just want to reinforce the need to make sure there's some level of comfort between police officers and occupants of the vehicle during a routine traffic stop," Brown said.
Brown's bill won final passage in the Senate Friday and is headed to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature.
"By including some general instructions, I think you can put at ease some of the anxiety that happens when you're stopped by a police officer," Brown said.
"Everybody is nervous when they're pulled over by police; we want to minimize that level of anxiety," Gatti said.
Gatti said Haynesville native and former NFL player Demetric Evans asked him to bring the bill because of Evans' concern about violent interactions during stops.
Ironically, Gatti said he was pulled over by police while talking to Evans on the phone. "I'm an experienced driver, and I was nervous, so you can imagine how a young driver feels," he said.
A few tips: Keep hands visible at all times; follow officer's direction, and tell the officer if you're reaching for ID in a glove box or console.
Brown and Gatti said the Louisiana Commission of Law Enforcement would provide the course material in conjunction with the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.
OMV Commissioner Karen St. Germain said the agency had already started to implement the instruction within the 30-hour drivers' education courses but would welcome both bills carrying the force of law.
"(The bills) came as a good surprise because we were in the middle of making some changes in the driver schools," St. Germain said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1
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