BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — After one woman in Louisiana lost her daughter in a crash due to a distracted driver, she and other advocates are seeking support for hands-free legislation.

HB580, authored by State Rep. Mike Huval, aims to strengthen the ban on phone use while driving. Drivers would still be able to make calls if needed to report a traffic crash or medical emergencies and the proposed bill would give tools to law enforcement to enforce the law.

Suzanne Salter’s daughter Nicole was killed by a driver who was texting in 2014, according to AAA Louisiana. The agency said Nicole left behind three children ranging in age from two to eight years old.

“You see other people with phones in their hands all the time,” said Salter. “They’re continually killing people out there.” 

AAA Louisiana is also in support of the bill, calling the use of smartphones while driving “an epidemic,” according to a news release.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reports that 193 people were killed from 2016-2020 because of distractions, and another 23,010 people were injured in 2020 alone.

“It is time for Louisiana to be counted among those states that have enacted hands-free laws and saved lives,” said Huval. “That is what House Bill 580 will do. It is my desire to enact legislation so that mothers like Suzanne’s daughter Nicole will return home safely to their babies.” 

AAA Louisiana Vice President Angela Nelson, Rep. Huval and Salter talked about the proposed bill on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11.