Text ban passes House committee

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, testifies during House committee debate about his legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to tweet, post on Instagram or use other social network sites. The proposal cleared the House Transportation Committee without objection. Senate Bill 147 next faces action on the House floor.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, testifies during House committee debate about his legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to tweet, post on Instagram or use other social network sites. The proposal cleared the House Transportation Committee without objection. Senate Bill 147 next faces action on the House floor.

A state Senate-passed bill that would make it illegal for drivers to tweet, post on Instagram or use other social network sites breezed through a Louisiana House committee Monday.

The measure, Senate Bill 147, next faces action on the House floor.

The proposal cleared the House Transportation Committee without objection.

State law already makes it illegal for drivers to use cellphones and other devices for text messaging.

The legislation would expand that ban.

“There is a kind of loophole in the statute,” said state Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston and sponsor of the measure.

“This bill closes that loophole,” Erdey said. “But more importantly this bill is about public safety.”

State Rep. Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, a member of the panel, praised Erdey’s proposal.

Guinn said he recently saw the results of an accident in Oakdale when a woman who was texting collided with a logging truck.

“The children coming up today are addicted to these devices and are on them 24/7,” he said.

The chief criticism of SB147 came from state Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central.

Ivey noted that state law does not ban drivers from applying makeup or reading a book.

He said that, while Erdey’s plan has good intentions, “I don’t think it is going to stop anything.”

Erdey said that, rather than a move like Ivey suggested to raise public awareness about the dangers of accessing social networks while driving, he wants a law on the issue with “teeth” in it.

State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part and chairwoman of the committee, said the bill is needed to address “unbelievable” driving by some motorists.

Erdey said drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident if they are texting.

Twitter is a form of social media used to post personal messages.

Instagram allows users to post photos.

Facebook, another target of the bill, is a social media website where users can personalize individual pages.