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Hey drivers! Put down that cell phone because Alabama is on the verge of passing hands-free driving laws in March 2019.
Admit it, your cell phone is your best friend. At work, at home, at the store and in the car, your phone is always right there with you.
While your cell phone may be a safety precaution when behind the wheel, for most, it is mostly used for talking, texting, navigation, music and more. It’s okay to admit it. I, too, have fallen in love with a piece of technology. Take it away for even 30 minutes and I start to feel a bit anxious.
But here’s the “funny” thing about it. Our cell phones may have started out being used as a safety precaution while driving, but now, they are a main cause of why we are unsafe behind the wheel. The reason: they distract us.
Texting And Driving In Alabama
Currently in Alabama, drivers can be ticketed for texting and driving. However, there is no official law banning adult drivers from using a hand-held device.
(If you didn’t know, those who are 16 years old are prohibited from all cell phone use when behind the wheel, while those who are 17 years old have the same restriction if they have had their driver’s permit for fewer than six months.)
So here’s the problem. With technology continue to claim our attention while driving, the risk and number of fatal car crashes continues to rise. Yikes!
According to a study by the University of Alabama, the number of reported cases where distracted driving caused the crash increased by 20 percent in 2016 over 2014. Not good!
So check this out. This past July, our GA neighbors passed a hands-free driving law, and guess what. The number of fatalities have decreased by 11 percent. That’s a pretty good percentage so far.
Pros Of Hands-Held Driving Laws
Here’s the situation. Even though you currently aren’t allowed to touch your cell phone while behind the wheel, you can still use it for things like conversations, GPS/navigation, etc. This means there is still cognitive distraction at play. So is here really any point in hands-free driving laws?
The answer is yes! While hands-free driving laws don’t eliminate all usage of cell phones while in the car, they do take away some of the distraction, which is key in lowering the risk of fatal crashes.
According to Rhonda Stricklin with the Center for Advanced Public Safety, enforcing hands-free driving laws,
“Take away the manual distraction of dialing the phone, holding the phone. It takes away the visual distraction of looking away from the road to find your phone.”
Alabama Legislation 2019
While some may argue that their rights are being taken away if a hand-held law goes into effect, Alabama Senator Cam Ward has stated that there is strong support for the bill in both the House and Senate. The issue will be discussed further in March during the 2019 legislation.
What do you think of Alabama passing hands-free driving laws? Let us know your thoughts!