POSTED: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 5:32pm
UPDATED: Friday, October 14, 2011 - 10:14am
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — The roads are one step closer to being cell phone-free today. A bill to ban handheld cell phone use while driving has passed through the House Transportation Committee.
Last November, Debbie Marie was hit by a truck while walking across the street. "He hit me and then, I went down," she says. "My life got totally flipped upsidedown."
She says the driver was using his cell phone when the accident happened. "It takes five seconds to get off the road and do your business. It takes two seconds to lose your focus and hurt someone or take a life."
Our Lady of the Lake trauma nurse Katie Sheets says she sees these types of collisions all the time. "In 2008, nearly 6,000 people were injured in accidents related to distracted driving," she says.
Sheets heads up a program that warns teen drivers of the dangers associated with talking on the phone behind the wheel. "Injury is not an accident," says Sheets. "It's preventable."
She thinks a ban on handheld phones will help make the roads safer. "We need this bill. If people keep both their hands on the wheel, they keep their eyes on the road, they can help prevent injuries."
Similar bill have been shot down during the legislative process in the past, but Marie hopes this year will be different. "I think its a crime personally," she says. "There's a time and a place for that. Don't do it while you're driving."
She hopes what happens to her, doesn't happen to anyone else. "It doesn't take but a few seconds, and somebody's whole life will be changed," she says.
Next, the bill goes to the full house for debate. Similar laws are already in place in nine other states across the country, including New York and Washington D.C. Learn more about the bill at http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=752607 
If you want your teens to take part in the OLOL community outreach program to talk about the dangers of distracted driving, contact Katie Sheets at firstname.lastname@example.org .