The sight of flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror is enough to make any driver panic. Most of us slow down, pull over, and try to determine how exactly this exchange is going to go. Will there be a ticket involved or simply a warning? In the majority of cases, these stops occur due to known traffic infractions such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign. These are things that all drivers know they aren’t supposed to do, but despite good intentions, slipups will still occasionally occur.
However, there are other, less common violations of which many drivers are not aware. While they may think that they are obeying all of Louisiana’s laws, there are often infractions that are unnoticed. Here, we will discuss three Louisiana traffic laws that are commonly misunderstood and hopefully leave you with information you need to remain both safe and compliant while on the road.
- Cell Phone Usage – By now, most have gotten the memo that it is not okay to text and drive. It is not only one of the most dangerous offenses that can be committed behind the wheel, it is also illegal. However, many drivers are less clear on laws regarding phone calls when operating their vehicle. Is it okay to have your phone to your ear or even use a hands free device? It all depends:
- Minors – Drivers under the age of 17 cannot lawfully use a mobile device to send or receive phone calls or text messages while driving.
- Adults – The only specific cell phone restrictions on adults are sending and receiving of text messages. There are currently no laws preventing adult drivers from having a phone conversation while driving, regardless of whether the device is handheld or hands free.
- Headphones – Music is an integral part of the commute for most drivers, but how you listen to it is an important part of staying within state law. You’ve likely seen drivers with ear buds in while they have a phone call or listen to music. Maybe you’ve even done this yourself. The problem is that Louisiana forbids the use of any type of headphone or listening device that is not a hearing aid for all drivers. The only exemptions for this are law enforcement and certain types of motorcycle helmets.
- Child Restraint – We’ve written before about how to properly use your child’s safety restraints, because they are so frequently used incorrectly. Using the wrong seat or installing it improperly has dangerous potential for injury in the event of an accident. For this reason, Louisiana sets forth some very specific guidelines regarding child safety seats:
- Under One – Any child under the age of one or weighing less than 20 pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing, infant car seat.
- Under Four – For children who are between the ages of one and four and 20 to 40 pounds, a forward-facing child safety seat may be used.
- Over Four – Children who are at least four years old or who weigh at least 40 pounds may use a child booster seat.
- Over Six – Children who are at least six years old or weigh more than 60 pounds may be restrained using the vehicle’s seatbelts or in a child booster seat. However, most safety organizations agree than 80 pounds and a height of at least 4 feet 9 inches is ideal before leaving the booster seat behind.
To be as safe on the road as possible and to avoid any surprising traffic tickets, it’s necessary to understand and obey all state traffic laws. Most are well known and require the use of simple common sense. However, there are a few that can be less clear and leave many drivers without the realization that they’re in violation. The above are some of Louisiana’s own, often misunderstood laws regarding vehicle operation. We hope that since you’ve read them, you’ll have a greater understanding of how to keep yourself and your loved ones safer on the road.
At Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers, road safety is a top concern. We see the unfortunate consequences of auto accidents on a daily basis. Our skilled team of attorneys is here to help injured victims find the justice they have been searching for. If you have been injured in an accident with an at-fault driver, contact our office and request a free consultation. Simply call us directly at (225) 387-2323.