Alabama lawmakers are considering making it illegal to hold your phone while driving.
Cell phone use while driving, leads to 1.6 million crashes each year, according to the National Safety Council. Alabama is the latest state considering banning the use of cell phones while driving. Georgia just past a similar law earlier this year.
Current Alabama law bans drivers from texting. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
“Because if a person is under the influence, even though you may be driving erratic, your eyes are still focused on the roadway, but if you’re texting or looking down to dial that phone, that means you’re doing just that looking down,” explained Alabama State Trooper Curtis Summerville.
A proposed hands-free law wants to take it one step further and make it illegal in Alabama to hold your phone while driving. The goal is reduce crash rates.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in 2016 due to distracted driving, including texting and using a cell phone.
“You’re not focusing on what you’re doing, so we certainly encourage people, especially this time of year, because they’re so many people out shopping. We encourage you to put the phone away, unless you have a hands-free unit and even hands-free is still dangerous,” Summerville said.
Sen. Jim McClendon’s (R-Springville), bill will be similar to the one enacted in Georgia, where drivers can only use a cell phone with speakerphone, earpiece or wireless headphones or if it’s connected to the vehicle or an electronic watch. Alabama drivers feel a hands-free law goes too far.
“You can’t concentrate on texting and seeing about the traffic, so I think that shouldn’t be, but to hold your phone I don’t see no problem with that,” Charles Maples said.
Early results in Georgia show a decrease of crashes and texting and driving since the hands-free law went into effect there.