In an effort to curb Birmingham car accidents and crashes across the state, a new anti-texting bill is getting widespread support in Alabama's House of Representatives.
The Birmingham News is reporting that a number of high-level lawmakers are backing the bill, which would completely outlaw texting behind the wheel in our state.
The way our Birmingham car accident attorneys understand it, anyone who violates this law would be slapped with a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 for the second conviction and $75 for the third or subsequent offense.
Some wonder if the bill even goes far enough, considering the devastation that distracted driving can cause on Alabama's roads.
Lawmakers in the House are expected to pass the bill, called House Bill 2. From there, the bill would wind its way to the Senate floor for review.
Alabama is actually somewhat behind on curve on this one. As of right now, there are 35 of the 50 states that have already passed a similar piece of legislation.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, many states have been cracking down on the use of cell phones and texting over the last couple years. This coincides with the number of "smart phones" that have become so commonplace. At one time, a cell phone was just that - a phone. Now, cell phones have become essentially computers. People are able to check their e-mails, receive messages, post Tweets, scroll their Facebook accounts and more - all from their phones. Technology can be a wonderful thing, but behind the wheel, it has proven deadly.
The Governor's Highway Safety Association reports that in nine states, as well as in Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands, no driver is allowed to use a handheld cell phone while driving. In all but one of those states, to do so is considered a primary offense, which means a police officer can give you a ticket solely for breaking that law. In Maryland, it's considered a secondary offense, which means officers would have to have another reason to pull you over.
In these states, it is still legal to use hands-free or Blue Tooth devices, as long as your hands can remain on the steering wheel.
Still, there are some states that ban cell phones for certain categories of drivers, mainly newly-licensed drivers and those who operate school buses.
This is the case with Alabama, where novice drivers 17 and younger are banned from using their cell phones at all - including to text. Teens may view this as somewhat unfair, but statistics have proven that teen drivers, with their inexperience, are more prone to distraction, and when that happens, accidents are more likely to occur.
As we mentioned earlier, in terms of anti-texting laws, such as the one Alabama lawmakers are currently mulling, there are 35 states, as well as D.C. and Guam, that have some law on the books pertaining to this issue. In 32 of those states, it's considered a primary offense.
On the Birmingham News' website, a number of posters voiced their opinions concerning the proposed law, with many speaking out in favor of the measure. It seemed everyone had a story about a near-miss with a distracted driver.
"Yesterday alone I saw two close calls due to people being distracted," said one user. "One was a cell phone, a young girl rolled through a stop sign while looking down at a phone." The writer went on to say that a young man barreled over a curb while looking down into his lap, rather than on the road.