Troopers prep for texting law

Published 8:51pm Saturday, July 7, 2012

When Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation in May making it a crime to text and drive, he said he was confident the new law would save lives.

“Signing this bill sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving – not on sending a text,” Bentley said after signing the law. “There is nothing so urgent that it is worth risking your life, or the lives of others, by sending a text message while you are driving down the road.”

The law, set to go into effect on Aug. 1, prohibits using a wireless device to write, send or read a text message, instant message or e-mail while operating a motor vehicle.

The fine for violating the law is $25 for a first-time offense, $50 for a second offense and $75 for a third or subsequent offense. Also, for each offense, a two-point violation would be placed on the offender’s driving record, according to a press release from Bentley’s office.

As of Thursday, officials with the Alabama Department of Public Safety said there is no additional training for catching texting while driving offenders planned for state troopers.

However, Sgt. Steve Jarrett, commander of DPS’s Public Information and Education Unit, provided numerous points he felt were important to take into mind when the new law goes into effect.

“As with all state laws, troopers will enforce this law in the most professional manner possible,” he said. “Troopers will fairly enforce this law giving it the attention it deserves.

“We will work with the prosecuting district attorneys to determine exactly what evidence will be required to make a case. At this point it is too early to speculate until some cases have been made and case law has been set. Phone records may be obtained as they are now in cases involving crashes with injury and/or death.”

Jarrett said he could only speculate as to how many citations would be issued come Aug. 1.

“It depends on the public’s compliance with the law,” he said. “Troopers will respond accordingly.”

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Bentley’s office, texting while driving creates a crash risk that is 23 times greater than when a driver is not distracted.

Also, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the release said. For a driver going 55 miles-per-hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field, the press release said.


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