Alabama leaders pushing for hands-free driving bill

Distracted driving laws expanding
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 10:34 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama leaders are calling distracted driving an “epidemic on our roads.” ALDOT is now pushing for harsher laws that could change your driving habits.

Right now in the state, it’s legal to have your phone in your hand while you’re driving. You can be checking directions or changing a song, it is only illegal to text and drive. But, ALDOT officials report seeing more drivers with continuous phone use and are working to make it all illegal.

“Drivers are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if they are texting while driving,” ALDOT’s Drive Safe Alabama Coordinator Allison Green said.

Green said ALDOT crews have been reporting seeing an increase in distracted driving and phone use.

“We are seeing everything from Facetime to Snapchat to watching TV programs on YouTube,” said Green.

Right now in Alabama, it is only illegal to text and drive, but there is a new bill set to go to Montgomery in March 2023 that would make it illegal to drive while holding your phone.

“Making it so that anytime you use your phone, it would be hands-free, for any reason,” Green said. “Whether it is texting and driving, or facetime and driving, it has become such a deadly thing on our roads. Especially for our workers, who are out there trying to improve the roads, they are especially vulnerable to a distracted driver.”

ALDOT reports that 49 roadway deaths in 2021 were linked to distracted driving, but Green said there is likely even more.

“It’s really difficult sometimes for law enforcement to tie a cause of a wreck to distracted driving,” she said. “But, that is five percent of our fatalities, so that is a significant number, even at 49.″

While you can be pulled over right now for texting and driving, Green said the penalties are low for first-time offenders. She said they’re still working on the punishments for the hands-free bill.

“That’s something that will happen with the hands-free law, you’ll have points added to your license, where you could ultimately lose your license as a result of driving with your cell phone in your hand,” Green said. “It’s become an epidemic on our roads, and we need to do something about it now.”

Green said the bill is still under development, but it’s getting a lot of support. She said Georgia just adopted a hands-free bill and they want to mirror something similar for Alabama.

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