Officials welcome text ban

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New recommendations that would outlaw non-emergency phone calls and texting by operators of every vehicle seem to be gaining support statewide, and locally.

Tuesday, Federal accident investigators called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving, and, when the Alabama legislature returns to session in 2012, State Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, is expected to push forward with House Bill 2, which would prohibit drivers from text messaging.

Currently, in Alabama, drivers under 18 with restricted licenses are barred from using cell phones and messaging, but further legislation could push these restrictions across the board.

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Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said he welcomes any steps the Legislators can take to end texting and driving.

“I’m 100 percent behind legislation,” he said.

“People should not be texting while driving because it is clearly dangerous. We remind our officers that if they see somebody texting while driving they need to stop them because it takes away from your ability to see what is going on around you. It’s just unsafe.”

Using any communications device while behind the wheel takes skill, Riley said, which is evident by the amount of training Selma Police officers must go through. Members of the department undergo extensive training to increase their abilities to drive a cruiser, answer the radio, handle the mic, listen for calls on the radio, and still be aware of what is going on around the car.

“That’s a tremendous pressure on us, which we do on a daily basis and train,” he said.

“We can’t expect an everyday citizen to be distracted like that and still be able to drive. I’m truly behind them dealing with texting.”

As for motorists talking on the phone while driving, Riley said he understands emergencies can happen. He said he feels hands-free devices could lessen the dangers of talking and driving.

Texting, he said, should never be tolerated


House Bill 2 would outlaw text messaging via wireless telecommunications devices while driving in Alabama.

Fines would be $25 for the first offense, then $50 and $75. Two points would also be levied against the offender’s against driver’s license.

Several Alabama cities have already passed ordinances designed to fight distracted driving.

Birmingham, Decatur, Huntsville, Montgomery, Madison, Vestavia Hills, Gadsden, Jacksonville, Roanoke and at least eight other communities in Alabama have banned texting while driving.

Scottsboro added an ordinance in January, Fairhope in March, Spanish Fort in April, and Florence in July.

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