New bills would ban texting while driving

The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to pass a new bill banning texting while driving. The vote will take place on Tuesday. The bill calls for graduating fines, as well as other penalties.

Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, noted that although his aim is to make government smaller and more efficient, “we also have an obligation to take care of the safety of the citizens of Alabama, and this is such a dangerous practice.”

If the bill is passed by the House and Senate and signed into law, those convicted of texting while driving would face fines of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second, and $75 for each subsequent conviction. In addition, offenders would be assessed two points on their driving record. Accumulating 12 points or more in a two-year period results in a driver’s license suspension of no less than 60 days.

A similar bill has been proposed in the Senate. It is widely expected that either the House or Senate version will eventually become law.

Critics, such as Senator Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, contend that the criteria for pulling a driver over for texting are too subjective. He believes it would be difficult for officers to determine whether a driver is texting or dialing a phone number. “We have all these kinds of smartphones that can do a lot more than text,” he said. He also questioned why texting while driving should be outlawed, but other uses of a cell phone while driving should be permitted.

Distracted driving accounted for over 3,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. for the year 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Birmingham News report can be found here.