MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Friends says Frances Phelps was a vivacious World War II veteran who served her community up until her death in a car crash. The other driver was distracted when their vehicles collided.
“She might have been 96, but that was just years," said Sue Tedford, a member of the Alabama Silver Haired Legislature. “She was active to the day that she was killed.”
Phelps died a few days later after a driver talking on the phone rear-ended the car she was in. She was part of the Alabama Silver Haired Legislature, a group representing senior citizens across the state.
Now that group wants lawmakers to pass a hands-free driving law similar to Georgia’s, which went into effect over the summer.
“And it appears to us when people are swerving and dodging that they might not be under the influence of alcohol, but they’re under the influence of technology, and they’re actually dodging and driving worse than a drunk person," said Rep. Steve Griffin, the speaker of the Alabama Silver Haired Legislature.
Georgia’s law says drivers can no longer have their phones touching any part of their body while talking through them.
“It’s to ensure that people are not on their telephones while driving," said Tedford. “If you drive the highways, you see that some legislation has got to be done here.”
Distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While Alabama does have a texting and driving law, it still allows for drivers to hold their electronic devices while driving.
Currently, there are 16 states, including Georgia, with hands-free driving laws.
Griffin said silver hair members are talking with lawmakers about creating a hands-free driving bill for the upcoming session in March.
The Alabama Silver Haired Legislature works in cooperation with the Alabama Aging Network, including the Alabama Department of Senior Services and the Area Agencies on Aging.