New bill bans texting while driving; but is it enough?

Governor Robert Bentley is expected to sign a bill banning texting while driving on Tuesday. The signing will take place at a ceremony held outside the state capitol.

Under the new law, sending text messages, instant messages, and emails while driving a vehicle will be punishable by small fines—from $25 for a first offense to $75 for a third offense. Additional offenses will not receive any penalties beyond the maximum fine.

Alabama joins 37 other states in prohibiting texting while driving, including the neighboring states of Georgia and Tennessee.

For the full report from WTVM, click here.

Given the relatively paltry sums specified in the bill, it seems doubtful that the new measure will go very far toward improving the safety of Alabama’s roadways. Studies both formal and informal, such as a Car and Driver report discussed here, suggest that texting while driving can be every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence. Yet, compared to the penalties imposed for DUI, the new distracted driving law seems a symbolic gesture, not to say a hollow one. As a deterrent, the bill appears, at best, marginal.