Texting while driving is no longer something to LOL about. As of today, Alabama becomes the 38th state to enforce a texting ban. Drivers caught using their cellular device to text will be fined $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense, and $75 for the third and subsequent offenses. Additionally, each conviction deducts two points off the offender’s driver’s license.
According to Alabama’s Public Safety Department, being distracted by use of an electronic communication device was a contributing circumstance in 1256 crashes, resulting in five deaths in 2010.
“Texting can be just as distracting as drinking alcohol while driving because you don’t have complete control of the vehicle,” said Lt. Steve Gunn of the Oneonta Police Department.
Texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver which makes it a complete distraction.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, “Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is equivalent to a driver blindly traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph.”
All supervisors at the Oneonta Police Department have discussed how they will enforce the new law, according to Deputy Chief Judy Underwood. She says they were shocked to see the law also states it is illegal for any driver under the age of 18 to use a cellular device at all while driving.
The law says no driver should text and drive but reading, selecting, or entering a telephone number on a cellular device is allowed.
“That is just as distracting in my opinion,” Underwood said.
She says this law will be used in more ways than just pulling over drivers when patrol officers see them texting. After car accidents, Oneonta Police will take the opportunity to now subpoena phone records to determine whether or not a cellular device might have contributed to the accident. Patrol officers will also use texting while driving as a probable cause to pull someone over possibly leading to a more serious offense, such as possession of illegal drugs, if the driver acts suspicious in any way once the police officer approaches the vehicle.
Underwood says since the passing of this law she believes there will be a decrease in texting while driving instances, which will lead to safer traveling in Alabama.
“Accidents, particularly street and highway, don’t happen,” she said. “They are caused.”