Hands-free bill near vote in Alabama House

Hands free bill up for vote

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A bill that would mandate all drivers not touch cell phones could be up for a vote in the Alabama House Wednesday.

The bill is named after 17-year-old Camryn Callaway. Callaway was driving home from her job when authorities say she died after crashing into the back of a tractor trailer while texting.

Callaway’s mother Michelle Lunsford said the hands free bill can save lives. “A year and a half ago could have made the difference if my daughter was here or not. I know so many people, it’s not just for me and my family, my daughter. There are so many people that are just waiting to see this passed,” Lunsford said.

Monday passage was in doubt. The bill had been changed to apply only to those 18 years old and younger. “My reaction was take my daughter’s name off. I didn’t want to be associated with that particular bill. I didn’t agree with it all,” Lunsford said.

That age limit was removed. The only exemptions now are police, firemen, doctors, and Uber drivers. A provision was added against profiling. Law enforcement can not spot someone touching a cell phone and then search a vehicle.

One of those inspired by Lunsford was Nakia Gelsinger. The two met for the first time Tuesday. For Gelsinger, this is very personal reason. “This is so heavy on my heart. Distracted driving takes lives. I lost my son and his girlfriend in a tragic car accident April 11, 2018,” Gelsinger said.

Gelsinger is also a Shelby County bus driver. “When I make my stops, I have my red zone and my stop arm out. They are blowing right through it. They are not looking up. They are looking down at their phones,” Gelsinger said.

The bill calls for fines if you touch a cell phone in a vehicle. Fines would be $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second, and $150 for the third. The bill also adds points against your insurance which could lead to the suspension of your driver license.

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