AL senator hopes new bill will reduce fatalities caused by distracted driving

AL senator hopes new bill will reduce fatalities caused by distracted driving
Senator Jim McClendon wants to take Georgia's hands-free law and bring it to Alabama. He says highway fatalities in Georgia have gone down by 100 since last year, thanks to the new law. (Source: {WBRC})

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It has the potential to save numerous lives. A bill recently filed in the state Senate would ban holding a cell phone while driving.

Senator Jim McClendon sponsored it. He also sponsored the bill that banned texting while driving.

“It was needed and it was very popular with the people, but it was extremely difficult to enforce,” says McClendon.

It’s difficult because officers often can’t tell if a driver is texting or just making a phone call. McClendon filed a new bill this week to fix that, modeling it after Georgia’s hands-free law.

Georgia’s law took effect last July. According to Georgia House Representative John Carson, fatalities are down by 100 from 2017 to 2018. They attribute that to the new law.

“Enforcement is going to be much more effective with this legislation. Georgia has already had probably, by now, 8,900 citations offered," says McClendon.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation banning drivers from even holding a cell phone. McClendon hopes to hit drivers in the pocketbooks - $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second. Not to mention the points on your license affecting your insurance. And while it will take a while for drivers to get used to …

“Look how long it’s taken to get folks using seat belts!” says McClendon.

He hopes it, too, will save lives.

"The overriding factor is highway safety. Everybody out there is frustrated with people that are texting and driving on our highways,” says McClendon.

McClendon’s bill will offer a free pass to first-time offenders if you can prove to a judge that you’ve gotten a Bluetooth device or something similar. There is also a similar bill filed in the House this week as well. The legislative session starts back March 5.

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