Texting and driving: to ban or not to ban?

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

According to the bill, phone calls would remain legal but texting, emailing or any other text-based action would be banned. (File Photo)

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, has filed a bill banning any text-based cell phone operation while driving. It’s not the first time this bill has been filed, only to die in Senate, but McClendon is optimistic.

“It’s my hope that it will pass this year. It’s the fifth or sixth year that I have filed this bill. It’s definitely going to do better in the Senate,” he said. “Some of the opposition we had has melted away.”

McClendon is passionate about texting and driving being more than just a glance down at a phone every few minutes.

“Texting requires that you take your eyes off the road and at east one hand off the steering wheel and also your mind off the task at hand, and that task is operating a vehicle,” McClendon said.

Phone calls would remain legal but texting, emailing or any other text-based action would be banned according to the bill. The state law in effect now bans all cell phone use for novice drivers.

“The fatality crash rate is comparable to drunk driving, and we all agree that drunk driving is not good,” he said.

According to the bill, violators will be fined $25 for their first offense, $50 for the second and $75 for their third. Additionally, one point will be placed against the violator’s driver’s license each time they are cited and there is also a chance that insurance companies may see a need to make an adjustment in the premium as a result of the offenses.

“I put (the fines) low on purpose, because a lot of times teenagers still live at home so it’s the parents that end up paying for it,” McClendon said.

According to McClendon, the bill has a 91% approval rating from the citizens of the Alabama.

“That could be the highest approval rating of any legislation I’ve ever seen. Alabamians don’t often agree on much,” he said.

Sergeant Russell Bedsole with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that the increased accessibility of cell phones naturally increases the amount of distracted driving in the area.