New cell phone, school bus laws now in effect
A new state law prohibits the use of cell phones and other wireless devices in school zones.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)
Area law enforcement officials say they are prepared to handle two new state laws that went into effect Aug. 1 pertaining to cell phone use in school zones and school bus pickup and drop off.
One law prohibits the use of cell phones and other wireless devices in school zones. Another law requires school buses to pick up and drop off children not in the roadways so students do not have to cross lanes of traffic. Students must be loaded and unloaded on the shoulder of the roadway, in a school parking lot, or in another off-road location at the school.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert said his department is ready to enforce the new laws. “Just like every year, at the beginning of school and throughout the year, we’re going to be in those school zones, especially real adamantly when school’s taking in and letting out,” Hebert said.
Enforcing the new law prohibiting cell phone use when school zones are in effect will be similar to the “Click It or Ticket” campaign in that deputies will engage an individual if a violation is spotted, Hebert said.
The cell phone law prohibits making calls on cell phones, text messaging, and accessing social networking sites.
The law does include exemptions for reporting emergencies and criminal activity, and for using wireless devices in lawfully parked vehicles.
“I think the public understands that when you take your eyes off of what’s going on there’s a lot of room for error and accidents and things like that,” Hebert said.
Overall, Hebert thinks that many people will be pleased with the effects of the new cell phone law, he said.
Regarding the new school bus law, Hebert said the sheriff’s office is always looking to enforce laws that have to do with the safety of children. “That law is directed more at the bus drivers,” Hebert said.
The sheriff is confident that the school board will get the message out to make sure all bus drivers comply with the law and that parents are aware of the law, he said. However, if deputies see an infraction, they will deal with it, he said.
Most parents will be ecstatic that their children will not have to gamble getting hit due to students no longer having to cross roads or highways to get on or off the bus, Hebert said.
In an email, St. Mary Parish Superintendent of Schools Donald Aguillard said school bus routes were planned ahead of the new legislation passed. School officials have addressed routes on the major highways including La. 317, La. 318, La. 182, Federal Avenue, and Red Cypress Road. Smaller roadways will need study to assess time constraints and additional assets, Aguillard said.
In a news release, Morgan City Police spokesman Capt. James Blair said the new laws are part of efforts to make travel safer as children go to their schools this year.
Police are making efforts to install additional signs in school zones to warn and remind motorists of the new law concerning wireless devices, Blair said.