State statistics show that more than 1200 vehicle collisions were caused by distracted driving in Alabama since 2010 and the numbers have been getting worse. The new legislation is an attempt to reverse that trend and start pushing the numbers in the other direction. The move makes Alabama the 38th state to enact some sort of ban on distracted driving by limiting what type of electronic devices can be used.
A recent story by the associated Press states that on August 1, “texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving will become illegal in Alabama, with violators facing fines and possibly higher insurance rates.”
Distracted driving is now the leading cause of fatal traffic collisions, eclipsing even deaths caused by drunk drivers. Legislators in almost every state have either already passed laws limiting the use of handheld devices by drivers or are working on legislation right now. The end result is meant to justify the efforts being put forth to end distracted driving, but not everyone feels the effort should be limited to handheld devices.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration one of the biggest distractions for drivers are passengers. Drivers are more likely to pay attention to the person they are talking to in the car than the road ahead, leading to an increased likelihood of having a crash. There are some who point out that distractions such as adjusting the radio or even lighting a cigarette are worse than talking on a cell phone. In fact, the state of Illinois recently attempted to pass a law requiring drivers lock animals in a safety cage while driving, preventing them from roaming free in the vehicle while it is in motion. This effort failed to garner enough support, but as interest in distracted driving grows it seems likely every effort will be made to stop it.