Will proposed hands-free bills reduce distracted driving?

In Alabama, it is currently against the law to text while driving, but it is legal to hold a cellphone while driving. In the near future, however, it may be against the law to do so.

Spurred on in part by a hands-free law that went into effect in 2018 in Georgia, two Alabama lawmakers are filing similar bills in the House and Senate to ban holding a phone while driving. If the laws pass, drivers will not be allowed to hold or otherwise support a cellphone with their body when they are driving.

Do the proposed laws need harsher penalties?

The consequences of breaking the proposed laws are not very strict given the serious nature of distracted driving accidents. The proposed bill in the House has fairly minor penalties:

  • A $50 fine and two driver's license points for a first offense
  • A $100 fine and three driver's license points for a second offense
  • A $150 fine and three driver's license points for a third or subsequent offense

While these fines are higher than those for breaking the texting-while-driving law, they are likely not enough to stop everyone from holding their phone when behind the wheel. There is some hope, however, that the new laws will be easier to enforce because it's easier for law enforcement to see someone holding their phone than to see them texting.

The dangers of distracted driving are real

Distracted drivers, whether talking or texting, can cause catastrophic accidents that leave victims with serious or fatal injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted drivers cause over 1,000 injuries every day. They also report that nine people per day die as a result of distracted driving accidents.

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