A bid to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving was rejected Wednesday by the Louisiana House.

The vote was 40-59, continuing a longtime pattern of lawmakers resisting major cell phone regulations.

The measure, Senate Bill 50, earlier breezed through the Senate.

The Louisiana Senate voted 31-5 Wednesday to ban hand-held cell phones while driving.

Backers said the change would trim the number of traffic accidents and fatalities, and that similar laws are already in place in 19 states.

“Our state has the highest rate of distracted drivers,” said state Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge.

A bid to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving failed Tuesday in the Louisiana House.

“If this bill passes no doubt we will have less distracted drivers,” Huval said. 

“Less distracted drivers means we will have less accidents. Less accidents means we will have less fatalities.”

Opponents painted the measure as an infringement on individual liberties, and they said the ban could lead to racial profiling by law enforcement.

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said it was “just disturbing” that police could stop cars and trucks by claiming drivers were talking on a phone.

“I think that is overstep on its face,” Carter said. “And it leads to other consequences, like racial profiling.”

Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, was among several lawmaker who said the legislation would be an infringement on individual rights.

“I am very concerned about lost liberties and concerned about this and what it can lead to,” McCormick said.

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