Alabama: A new bill to stop distracted drivers voted on

Texting While DrivingRepublican Representative Jim McClendon is sponsoring a bill in the Alabama House that will make texting while driving an illegal offense. McClendon sponsored a similar bill last year, but the Senate voted it down. The Republican Representative is cautiously optimistic that the bill will be passed by this year’s Senate.

Texting while driving, or talking on the phone, falls in the “distracted driving” category. This has become an issue severe enough that most states are starting campaigns to raise awareness about the seriousness of it. Pilot programs were done in Connecticut last year; allowing law enforcement to stop a vehicle just for distracted driving.

Talking on the phone or texting (mobile phone use) has been the main cause of distracted driving. However, other things fall into this category also, such as playing with the radio, eating, or being emotionally distressed while driving. Anything that takes your mind or focus off of the road or your hands off of the wheel is a distraction.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 20 percent of all crashes were caused by some form of distracted driving. Of those accidents, 16 percent involved fatal injuries. The age range with the highest rate of distracted driving accidents involving fatalities, was the 20 and under group.

 Don’t start pointing fingers at the teens so quickly; 24 percent of adults’ ages 30-39 who were involved in fatality accidents were distracted by their cell phone. This is something that affects all age groups. Texting while driving is six times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated.

Over half of the states across the nation all ready have some type of law in place making it illegal to text and drive. Some of the laws encompass a broader range with the “distracted driving” of any kind, while others focus specifically on mobile phone use and texting.

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