BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Hold that Twitter thought. If you are driving, a proposed state law would make it illegal for you to post status updates or anything else to social media websites.
With an eye toward closing a loophole in the law that prohibits texting while driving, the Senate transportation committee Wednesday approved a measure that would add accessing, reading and posting to social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to the no-no list while driving.
The proposal by Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, was approved by the committee without objection. It moves to the full Senate for debate.
"Distracted driving can cause a lot of accidents," Erdey told committee members.
Erdey said the impetus for the bill came from law enforcement officials in the city of Walker who reported stopping drivers who looked like they were texting. After being pulled over, the drivers said they were not texting — they were posting to Facebook or Instagram.
"Under current law, nothing states or talks about social networking," Erdey said. "Texting, social networking, it's all about taking your eyes off the road."
According to a Pew Research Center report issued in February, the number of people using social media increased from 8 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2012. An Internet tracking survey conducted by the center indicated 40 percent of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone.
Erdey cited a statistic he said came from a 2009 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that he said indicates the high risk of distracted driving.
"Sending or receiving a text takes the driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds," he said. "That's equivalent at 55 mph of driving the length of an entire football field basically blind. Social networking is taking more time."
If passed into law, violators would face a traffic fine of up to $175 for the first offense and up to $500 for second and subsequent violations.