Alabama lawmakers moving forward with hands-free driving law

Hands-free Alabama?

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Right now in Alabama, you can be ticketed for texting and driving, but there’s no law that bans you from using your hand held device.

Meanwhile, Georgia officials say they’ve seen a difference since passing their hands-free law.

Michelle Lunsford lost her 17-year-old daughter Camryn this year after she struck an 18-wheeler.

“Actually on Snapchat, texting someone happy birthday,” says Lunsford.

She wants to turn that hurt and anger into something productive.

“There’s a wake-up call for you that you’ve been through and you want everybody else to have that too,” says Lunsford.

Lunsford says we need to make a change before losing more of our children.

In Alabama, the number of reported cases where distracted driving caused the crash increased by 20 percent in 2016 over 2014. Georgia passed a hands-free law in July and has seen fatalities decrease by 11 percent.

“Certainly, the fact that it’s hands-free takes away part of the distraction. You’re still on the phone, you’re still having a conversation, there’s still the cognitive distraction. But it does take away the manual distraction of dialing the phone, holding the phone. It takes away the visual distraction of looking away from the road to find your phone,” says Rhonda Stricklin with the Center for Advanced Public Safety.

Lunsford is working with local legislators who say they’re drafting a bill very similar to Georgia’s. It will be pre-filed in January and up for a vote in March. Lunsford says it’s her duty now to make everyone, especially parents, aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

“You just want to yell out the window, you know, what are you doing? You don’t understand what this means, this is life and death. I just want to see lives saved," she said.

Alabama Senator Cam Ward says there is strong support for the bill in both the House and Senate. Still, experts understand people will argue their rights are being taken away. We’ll keep you updated on this story as it develops.

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