Despite heavy lobbying by supporters of the proposed ban, including safety experts, other lawmakers and law enforcement, the Senate Transportation Committee voted 2-1 Thursday against the House-backed proposal.
The bill would have allowed the use of a hands free device, such as a Bluetooth enabled cell phone, but would have prohibited drivers from talking on their cell phones while holding them.
Unlike Texas to the West and Florida to the East, Louisiana already has a ban on texting while driving. This measure won overwhelming support from law makers on both sides of the aisle and passed easily.
Prevented the use of handheld devices, however, has been a tougher sell to some, especially politicians concerned about alienating part of their constituency.
A December report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Board showed that the number of fatal crashes caused by distracted driving had eclipsed the number of fatal crashes caused by driving under the influence of alcohol for the first time in 2011. The NHTSB also said with their report that the trend seemed to indicate that this was going to remain a problem until distracted driving could be regulated, specifically the use of handheld devices by drivers. The NHTSB called for an immediate nation wide ban on the use handheld devices. This caused some states to react swiftly and others to denounce the NHTSB report as fear mongering.
Texas lawmakers for instance have repeatedly said that a statewide ban on handheld devices was overkill, and that the issue was best left to municipalities who could decide for themselves if they wanted or needed a handheld devices ban.
Louisiana appears to be one of those states caught in the middle. They want to provide some regulation to control distracted driving but have so far hesitated to enforce too many rules on drivers.