Principal Technical Analyst
Tomorrow, 01 August 2012, Alabama will become the 38th State to ban texting while driving. This new law was authored by Representative Jim McClendon of Springville. According to the Birmingham News and AL.com, Rep. McClendon (who is a doctor of optometry) worked on this bill for six years prior to seeing it passed.
The law states:
A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a public road, street, or highway in Alabama while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication. (Read the full text from the Legislature.)
The law offers four exceptional circumstances when it is permitted:
- Dialing a phone number to make a voice call is still permitted.
- Texting, emailing, and using an Internet browser is permitted if you are parked on the shoulder of the roadway.
- You may use text communications to obtain emergency services, such as police, fire, paramedics, or other emergency health services.
- You made read the screen of a GPS device while driving, but not program locations and coordinates.
Violating the new law will be worth two points on a driver’s license, and fines will be $25, $50, and $75 dollars (for the first through third and subsequent offenses), and the law can be enforced by State Troopers, city police officers, and a county’s Sheriff’s office.
Although the author of this post is uncertain how emergency police, fire, or health services would be obtained by text messages and email, the law very likely has the ability to save lives and property. Furthermore, only five states in the US allow drivers to send text messages while driving (technically, there is no state law in Hawaii, but each county in Hawaii has an ordinance against it).
View a map created by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of states that have banned texting and driving.