Most members of the Alabama Legislature favor passing legislation to ban text messaging while driving. In an Associated Press survey of lawmakers, 81% of House members responding said they would support such a ban, while just 1% was opposed. Eighteen percent said they were undecided. In the Senate, 77% of respondents said they would support the bill, while 10% were opposed with 13% undecided. State Rep. Jim McClendon observed:
If you’re going to text message, you’ve got to take your eyes off the road and one or both hands off the steering wheel. It’s the worst form of distraction there is.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, seven states — California, Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington — and the District of Columbia ban sending text messages while driving. In Louisiana and Washington, sending text messaging is only a secondary traffic violation, which means a driver must be stopped for breaking a different traffic law before he or she can be given a ticket for text messaging. At least nine other states ban text messaging for some teenage or novice drivers.
Rep. McClendon is introducing a bill that would make it illegal to send a text message while operating a vehicle. For the first offense, the driver would receive a $25 fine, and it would go to $50 for the second offense and $75 for the third. A driver would be assessed points against his driving record and could have his driver’s license suspended after a fourth violation. At press time, the bill had already been reported out of a House committee.
Rep. McClendon who serves as chairman of the Alabama Safety Coordinating Committee, has worked hard in his efforts to improve highway safety. He has introduced a number of safety-related bills. In fact, he introduced a similar bill two years ago that would have made it a violation for people under 18 to drive and use a cell phone at the same time. That bill died after being debated for several hours on the House floor, with some lawmakers complaining it should apply to everybody and not just teenagers. The proposed legislation is supported by officials at the Alabama Traffic Safety Center at the University of Montevallo.
Source: Associated Press
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