FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2017
Commissioner Donelon Encourages Consumer Commitments to Stop Distracted Driving
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is reminding Louisiana drivers about the dangers of distracted driving during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic deaths in the first half of 2016 were up 10.4 percent over the first half of 2015. In 2015, traffic deaths rose by 7.2 percent – the largest increase in nearly 50 years. The National Safety Council has declared April Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“The statistics are staggering and while vehicles are becoming safer, we are seeing the number of fatalities on our roads rise. Distracted driving is an alarming trend that can end with deadly consequences,” said Commissioner Donelon. “I’m encouraging Louisiana drivers to consider the potential dangers associated with distracted driving and to make a renewed commitment to making our roads safer in 2017.”
Distracted driving is also cited by insurers as a factor in the higher frequency of accidents that is driving up auto insurance rates across the country. A 2016 AAA survey found that 42 percent of drivers admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the last 30 days. The Louisiana Department of Insurance encourages drivers to take the following steps to avoid distracted driving:
- Always put your phone away before starting your vehicle.
- Remind family members and friends about the dangers of driving distracted.
- Stay informed about legislation linked to distracted driving.
Louisiana law prevents texting or posting to a social networking site while driving. There is a maximum fine of $500 for the first offense. State law also prohibits the use of a mobile device or cell phone while driving through a school zone. The fine for a first offense is $175.
Among the events being held this month to call attention to the issue is a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. on April 26 sponsored by the National Transportation Safety Board. The roundtable will include families and victims affected by distracted driving including Suzanne Salter, a Louisiana mother who lost her daughter in an auto accident in 2014.
“Unfortunately distracted driving is an issue that I’ve become all too familiar with as it has impacted many families in Louisiana,” added Commissioner Donelon. “I commend the efforts of Ms. Salter and other similarly impacted families who have suffered a personal tragedy and become courageous advocates for an important cause.”
About the Louisiana Department of Insurance: The Louisiana Department of Insurance works to improve competition in the state’s insurance market while assisting individuals and businesses with the information and resources they need to be informed consumers of insurance. As a regulator, the LDI enforces the laws that provide a fair and stable marketplace and makes certain that insurers comply with the laws in place to protect policyholders. You can contact the LDI by calling 1-800-259-5300 or visiting www.ldi.la.gov. Click here to download the LDI logo.