On August 1 Alabama joined 38 other states in enacting a statewide ban on texting while driving. During the law’s first month in effect Alabama State Troopers issued 14 citations, and at least two other citations were issued by local law enforcement agencies.
Signed in May, the law prevents drivers from using wireless communications devices to check email, read messages or send messages while driving. This is a primary stop statute, meaning that officers may pull over a driver for the sole violation of texting and driving; no other violations need to be present. There are exceptions to the law; drivers can contact emergency services or use a GPS device while driving. They can also text when the vehicle is stopped and in neutral or park.
The fines for texting while driving in Alabama are $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $75 for the third and subsequent offenses. The fines may be minor, however each violation equals two points on the driver’s record which can lead to hikes in insurance costs. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley believes that although the penalties are not extreme, the law alone will remind drivers to think twice before picking up their device to text or email.
“Statistics show that people are 23 times more likely to be in an accident if they are texting while driving,” Bentley Press Secretary Jennifer Ardis said in a prepared statement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,092 people died in the United States in 2010 from “distraction-affected” accidents, which includes texting and dialing a cellphone. According to the Alabama Crash Facts Book, drivers “distracted by passenger/electronic device” were involved in 1,846 wrecks statewide in that same year. Those wrecks in Alabama resulted in seven deaths. Governor Robert Bentley is confident that this bill will save lives. It is important to seek the legal help of an expert car crash attorney if you are involved in an accident caused by the negligence of another individual. Causing an accident because of texting and while driving is considered a negligent action.