More cities reviewing texting/driving ordinance possibility

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - First it was Vestavia Hills.  Now, more Jefferson County municipalities are considering a ban on texting while driving.  This includes Birmingham, Irondale and Trussville.

State legislators recently passed a law prohibiting 16 and 17-year-olds from the practice.

But after learning of an accident her teen daughter's friend had, Birmingham city councilor Kim Rafferty decided to draw up an ordinance that would impact everyone.  "From traffic studies we've seen, the majority of texting is done between the ages of 18 to 24," Rafferty said Thursday.  "So I think we should not limit our target to the novice drivers. I think it should encompass everyone who's out there texting, including me."

Trussville city councilor Bryan Plant says that Trussville will likely look at Vestavia's ordinance and decide if a similar ban is right for their city.  "I think the people would like us to look at it," Plant says.

Mayor Tommy Joe Alexander, of Irondale, says he'll present a measure to the Irondale City Council in June.  "It's dangerous to the driving public and the people driving themselves," Alexander said. "I think once they see the danger, I think the public will be on our side."

While Alexander doesn't foresee any hurdles for the measure, Birmingham city councilor Johnathan Austin says there will be those who question the ordinance, especially its possible infringements on civil liberties.  "We're not going to move swiftly to do anything.  We need to make sure we look at it holistically and in compliance with state law as it reads right now."

Austin is head of the public safety committee. They will review it at their next meeting, Wednesday, May 19th.

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