Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

As I was driving home from work Friday evening, I was reminded of how hard-headed some people can be, and how all the laws and statistics in the world will not change their behavior.  Despite the mountains of research data, along with the increasing number of injuries and deaths and the laws put in effect to prevent them, millions of American continue to text and drive.

I was traveling north on I-49 approaching the exit to Pierremont Road.  If you've traveled this particular route, you know there's an on-ramp at 70th Street, just before you pull into the right lane to take the Pierremont exit.  As I was about to move over, a 20-something young woman in a late model Honda was merging onto I-49.  And she was doing a terrible job of it.  She didn't speed up, she didn't slow down; she never even knew my car was there.  That's because she was holding a phone up in front of her face just texting away.


Texting-while-driving is especially prevalent in Louisiana.  A recent study by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC)  found that Louisiana ranks second in the U.S. for drivers using their cell phones while driving.  Louisianans use their phones 2.4 times each time they drive, on average.  That's 20% more than the national average.  From 2011 to 2015, 192 people died and almost 27,000 were injured because of distracted driving.

Texting-while-driving has been a primary offense in the state of Louisiana since 2008.  That means that police officers are authorized to pull over and ticket drivers solely for texting or checking e-mail while driving.  Of course that means that there have to be officers on the road to actually pull people over and, with limited resources available, this has been an issue for the Shreveport Police Department (SPD).  That may be about to change.

Through a grant program, LHSC just gave SPD $101,184 to be put toward a number of traffic enforcement initiatives from October of 2017 to September of next year.  These initiatives will include DWI enforcement, speed and seat belt enforcement, as well as saturation patrols.  Though not specifically cited, through their increased vigilance, officers will no doubt be on the lookout for those using their cell phones while driving.

I'll admit that when I'm driving and that little whistle goes off on my phone alerting me to a new text message, the urge is strong to pick up the phone and look at it.  But I don't trust my reflexes or my ability to multi-task.  So, I don't do it.  But there's another reason I don't text and drive:  I've got to keep my eyes glued to the road so that I can avoid the people who do.

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