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New Year’s Resolution – Drive Less Distracted in 2017

Distracted driving is impacting roadway safety in Alabama and across the country. In Baltimore, a man crashed into a stationary police vehicle while playing “Pokeman Go.” In Napa, a teen driver collided with a power pole while playing a video game. Jennifer Smith founded a group called StopDistractions.org to advocate against distracted driving after her mother was killed in an accident caused by a distracted driver using a mobile device. According to the National Safety Council, roughly 1.6 million auto crashes are attributed to mobile phone usage annually; this equates to approximately one of every four incidents. An estimated 330,000 people are injured in accidents stemming from this issue. They believe the average time that a driver takes their eyes off of the road when text messaging is five seconds. Distracted driving may include actions such as mobile device usage, eating, using mirrors to view makeup, and more.

Distracted Driving Becoming Large Concern

Law Enforcement Outlook

Text messaging while driving is prohibited in 46 states. In 2012, Alabama implemented a ban on texting while driving. The initial drafts of the legislation sought to prohibit all usage of hand-held devices; however, according to Senator Bill Holtzclaw, there was not enough public support. Despite being a primary law, enforcement officers confirm that proving if a driver was actually texting while driving can be difficult. Those drivers in AL that are 16 or 17 years old with intermediate licenses are the only segment completely banned from using mobile devices while operating. Corporal Jesse Thornton, with the Alabama State Troopers, characterized distracted driving as an “epidemic”.

Alabama Law

State code defines a wireless telecommunication device as a telephone, text messaging device, digital assistant, or computer, which is removable and capable of transmitting text or data through manual means. This excludes voice operated devices that do not require usage of the hands. When law enforcement observes violators, they are able to treat these infractions as the sole or primary reason for “pulling over” a driver. The restriction applies to texts, instant messages and email—not to entering a telephone number. Penalties include:

  • $25 fine – 1st violation
  • $50 fine – 2nd violation
  • $75 fine – 3rd violation

Usage is permitted in these instances:

  • Contacting emergency services
  • When vehicle is parked on the side of the roadway
  • When using a global positioning or navigation device for directions

University of Alabama Research Simulator

At UAB they established a “distracted driving research lab” with a vehicle simulator. Upon testing, those engaged in texting confirmed that a driver’s eyes were off the road for an average of five seconds. Their findings clearly indicate the dangers associated with the problem.

Have you or a loved one incurred injuries due to the negligence or carelessness of another driver? You may be entitled to reparations for the hardship to account for economic and non-economic damages. The Alabama distracted driving injury attorneys Guster Law Firm, LLC believes that injury victims must hold these parties accountable. Contact our office for a consultation today at (205) 386-6844