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|New laws band driving while texting|
As we begin a New Year, Sheriff Randy Maxwell reminds drivers of the new state law involving the increasingly popular mode of communication -- texting.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), distracted driving (including cell phone use) is a major contributor to vehicle crashes. Everyday in the U.S., between 4,000 and 8,000 crashes occur related to distracted driving.
The issue of distracted driving becomes even more important because of increased incidents of "Driving While Texting (DWT).
According to a Nationwide Insurance Study, an estimated 20% of drivers are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel. Researchers are noting a dangerous trend as this statistic jumps alarmingly to 66% among young people ages 18-24.
Sheriff Maxwell wants to ensure that all drivers know the laws regarding cell phone use while driving.
Louisiana is currently one of five states that have banned text messaging while driving. New Louisiana laws also prohibit drivers with learner's permits from talking on cell phones while driving unless they are using a hands-free device. If a driver is in an accident at the time of the violation, the fines are doubled.
Maxwell noted that he does not discount the fact that cell phones act as lifesaving tools in emergency situations. About 290,000 emergency calls are made everyday from wireless devices. "But there is a time and a place for text messaging, and when you're driving is not one of them," he advises.
"As the use of cell phones continues to sky-rocket," the Sheriff continued, "it's best to recognize that certain safety factors can mean the difference between life and death in cell phone use when driving."
To make your driving and cell phone use experience a little safer, Sheriff Maxwell offers the following safety tips:
Obey the law. Don't text and drive while you're behind the wheel.
Before you get behind the wheel, get to know your phone's features, such as speed dial and redial. Use a hands free device when possible.
Assess the traffic and dial sensibly. Ask your passenger to dial for you, or make calls when you are not moving.
Never read or write while the car is moving. If you must write a note or take down a phone number during a conversation, pull over!
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