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Distracted driving increasingly to blame for traffic accidents - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Distracted driving increasingly to blame for traffic accidents

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SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CITY, La. -

"It's not just, 'if I'm not texting, I can't get in a wreck because of it.' You have to watch out for everybody else on the road too."

16-year-old Airline High School student Colton Burge is getting ready to put those words into action, and says he's already aware of the array of different distractions.

"Somebody doing their make-up or brushing their hair or eating or something like that."

Burge's courses at First Class Driving School in Bossier City teach him the rules of the road, but owner Bud Chauncy says it can be tough to get students to understand the true dangers of distracted driving.

"In the phone conversation, you always have an extra part of your brain balance trying to read that person."

He says the the problem is that the longer people get away with distracted driving, the more complacent they become.

"Sooner or later, you're the bullet and there's going to be something that gets in front of you that you're going to hit, and that's the risk we all take."

Factor in the roughly 5 seconds it takes to send or read a text, and you've traveled the length of a football field.. blindfolded.

"Once you observe the violation, at that point, you have sufficient probable cause to conduct the traffic stop," explains Cpl. Marcus Hines with the Shreveport Police Dept.

Often crash reports cite behavior that resulted from distracted driving, rather than the distracted driving itself, though phone records could be subpoenaed in serious cases.

"Depending on the severity of the injuries or in the unfortunate event if it ends in a fatality or something of that nature," Hines says.

It's a mistake that Chauncy's students say they won't make.

"I think that they should have been more responsible when they drive instead of text," says 15-year-old Benton High School Freshman Garrison Bundy.

Meanwhile, LSU Baton Rouge is wrapping up a study aimed at pinpointing exactly how dangerous using a cell phone is while driving.

In LSU's study, volunteers were judged on how well they could perform driving tasks in a simulator, while also answering phone calls, sending, and responding to texts.

Not surprisingly, so far, the study shows that people who texted while driving had significant trouble, especially staying in their lane.

The final results of that year and a half long study are expected to be released within a month.

Distracted driving by the driver of an SUV is what officials believe caused a major crash that sent a Caddo Parish Sheriff's deputy to the hospital on Sunday.

39-year-old Jody Hollis told authorities she reached for her purse just before rear-ending deputy Mark McLaughlin's patrol car on I-220.

McLaughlin was released from the hospital on Monday, after suffering only minor injuries.

Hollis escaped her GMC Yukon unharmed and the crash is still under investigation.

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