Is it Safe to Make a Hands-Free Phone Call While Driving?

February 14, 2022

Distracted driving is a major cause of auto wrecks in the United States. According to the CDC, approximately 3,000 deaths occur annually from distracted driving crashes in the United States. One in five of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and bystanders.

Louisiana enforces strict distracted driving laws to combat the high numbers of distracted driving deaths on U.S. roads. Failing to abide by these laws can result in a hefty fine and, in some cases, a license suspension.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Louisiana due to a distracted driver, your first step should be to contact our Baton Rouge auto accident lawyers to handle your case, so you receive a fair settlement. 

Louisiana’s Distracted Driving Laws

In 2019, 9% of fatal car crashes involved distracted drivers. The biggest distraction for modern drivers is the smartphone. Louisiana’s distracted driver laws focus on reducing cell phone use in vehicles. Drivers are prohibited from using a phone or other type of wireless telecommunications device to:

  • Read, type, or draft notes, messages, and any other form of text-based communication (including text messages, emails, forum posts, and direct messages from social media platforms)
  • Use social media applications (including viewing, scrolling, reading, or posting on any of these platforms)
  • Play media or communicate via a headset, headphones, or earphones

Per RS 32:300.8, it is also illegal to use a phone or handheld device for any reason while driving through a school zone during specific hours. These hours are usually signposted on the roadside and can differ depending on the school district.

Exceptions to these laws include:

  • Device use relating to emergencies or reporting criminal activity
  • Using a GPS device
  • Devices used by police or emergency service members as part of their official responsibilities

For their first violation, drivers face up to $500 in fines. Any subsequent offenses result in up to $1,000 in fines and a 60-day suspended license. If a distracted driver causes a collision with another driver or injury to a citizen, the liable driver can face increased fines and legal action from the victim, who is entitled to compensation for their medical expenses and more.

Are Hands-Free Phone Calls Safe While Driving?

Louisiana drivers can legally use a hands-free or Bluetooth kit to take calls when driving. While hands-free calls are safer than texting or manually calling someone, they are still dangerous. Even hands-free phone calls distract you from paying attention to the road, contributing to an accident.

According to research by the National Safety Council, holding a phone conversation can be so distracting that drivers can miss up to half of what they are seeing, including traffic signals like stop signs and red lights.

Instead of attempting to make phone calls while driving, even hands-free ones, you can:

  • Send ETAs before leaving: Create a habit of sending friends or colleagues your estimated time of arrival (ETA) before starting your trip rather than while you’re driving. It’s also a good idea to input directions into your GPS before driving.
  • Use auto-reply messaging while driving: Create an auto-reply message for when you drive. It can be something as simple as “I’m driving. I’ll respond later.”
  • Turn on Airplane mode: Switching your phone to Airplane mode prevents notifications, messages, and calls from distracting you while driving.
  • Store your phone out of reach: By placing your phone out of reach, you remove the temptation of looking at it every few minutes.
  • Pull over: Find a safe and legal place to pull over if you need to use your phone. Put on your hazards and park the vehicle before touching your mobile device. 

Proving Liability in a Distracted Driving Crash

Louisiana recognizes pure comparative fault for car accidents. This means that both parties involved in an accident may be eligible to recover damages, although compensation will be reduced based on their degree of fault. If you’ve been injured in a crash, you should still pursue compensation for your medical bills even if you may have contributed to the crash in some way. Otherwise, you may be stuck paying for those medical bills out of your own pocket.

Proving liability (who is at fault) is a critical component of any accident in Louisiana, particularly if you’re injured. The less fault you have, the more compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. Visit your doctor as soon as possible so they can assess your injuries and document them in your medical records as proof of your damages. Attend all follow-up appointments and adhere to your doctor’s care instructions.

Besides the official medical records of your injuries, you’ll need to gather the following evidence:

  • Police reports
  • Medication and treatment receipts
  • Photographs or videos of the accident site and your injuries
  • Witness statements
  • Phone records
  • Social media activity reports

These will show how much you suffered in damages, and help prove your own degree of fault was low or non-existent. The skilled car accident attorneys at Dudley DeBosier can help you obtain the proof you need to build a strong case against a distracted driver.

Call Dudley DeBosier Auto Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you are injured due to another’s driver’s negligence behind the wheel, you need a law firm you can trust in your corner. An experienced auto accident attorney from Dudley DeBosier can evaluate your case to see if you have a valuable claim against the distracted driver who injured you.

With offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport, we handle auto accident cases from across Louisiana. Contact Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers today to arrange your free consultation.