WEST BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Every day, nine people in the United States lose their lives in crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One source claims that texting and driving results in approximately 400 fatal wrecks annually.

The tragic stories behind each of these statistics led to the Louisiana law that bans texting and driving, and this fall, local authorities are making a concerted effort to target distracted drivers.

The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office issued a Tuesday (September 6) reminder about the upcoming campaign.

Authorities reminded citizens that local law enforcement will be stationed at school zones across a number of parishes (West and East Baton Rouge Parish, West and East Feliciana Parish, Ascension Parish, Livingston Parish, Pointe Coupee, and Iberville Parish) in search of drivers using cell phones while behind the wheel.

A related notice from the Capital Region Transportation Safety Coalition stated, “Louisiana law states that no person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication. Please encourage your family and friends to have a plan in place when driving and speak out against distracted driving.”

Drivers caught using cell phones in school zones will be required to pay a fine of $500 for a first-time offense, and $1,000 for a second offense along with a 60-day license suspension for serial offenders.

While these fines may seem steep, the potential of losing one’s own life or accidentally taking someone else’s life is far worse.

On that note, anyone in the habit of texting and driving may find the following suggestions handy:

  • Keep your phone on silent while driving
  • While driving, place your phone in a purse or area that is out-of-reach.
  • If you need to use GPS while driving, make sure to set it up before you start your engine.
  • If you’re with passengers, ask them to send text messages and take calls for you.
  • Use apps that prevent you from texting and driving.
  • If you absolutely must send a text or place a call, pull over to a safe location and use your phone.

Click here for more on the dangers associated with texting and driving.