Include Alabama in the list of states which now have bans on texting while driving, bringing the total number of states with such bans to 38.

The Alabama law was spurred to creation after the Alabama Public Safety Department of Public Safety released a report which showed that in the past 18 months more than 1,200 people were killed on Alabama roads in traffic crashes caused by someone who was texting and driving.

The new law received overwhelming support in both state houses and was eagerly signed into law by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley who was quoted as saying, “Signing this bill sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving, not sending a text. There is nothing so urgent that it is worth risking your life, or that of others, by sending a text while operating a vehicle.”

Unlike some state laws which do little to punish drivers who text behind the wheel the new law in Alabama bars driver’s from using a wireless device to read, write or send a text message, as well as instant message, or email while driving. First time offenders will have to pay a $25 fine, second offenders $50 and third or subsequent offenses will cost the driver $75. Also, two penalty points would be added to offenders’ driving licenses for each violation.

There is clearly a growing trend in state legislatures to do something to halt the gradual increase in traffic related crashes caused not only by texting and driving, but by the use of smartphones in general. These ubiquitous devices make it easy for someone to become distracted when they are walking down the sidewalk, much less behind the wheel of a 3,000 pound automobile, cruising along at 55 miles per hour. Without adequate controls to deter the use of these devices some drivers will risk their life, the life of anyone riding with them and the lives of everyone on the road with them, just to check their spam folder.