Alabama is now the 38th state to ban texting behind the wheel. If you're caught, the first offense is $25 plus court costs and two points on your drivers license.
"Did you know you can't text behind the wheel?" Hanna Smyth says "No, I didn't know it took affect today." And neither did other drivers on the road. It's now against Alabama law to text, email or instant message while behind the wheel with the car running even if you're stopped at a red light. Ronnie Weaver says "I didn't know you can't text while stationary, that's a new one."
According to the CDC, some twelve-hundred daily crashes are attributed to distracted driving. Smyth says "I know a couple of people from where I'm from who passed away because of texting and driving, just accidents. You never know what's gonna happen when you're not paying attention to the road. But some believe the law will make a difference, like Tina Smith, who was ticketed in Hawaii. "The more tickets that write, the more people will want to put it away, it all depends on the law."
But how will the law crack down on drivers when movements are quick and it's hard to really see some situations? Sergeant Johnny Williams says "Every situation will be different depending on the terrain where the officer is located, so it's gonna be up to the individual officer to enforce the crime." Williams says Birmingham Police will not have an operation looking for a texter they always look for a broad range of violations. "There's no such thing as a routine traffic stop." But a routine text will probably not go un-noticed anymore. Smith says "We were traveling next to an 18-wheeler and he was texting. We were like oh my gosh, we were right beside him, so I think it's a good thing."
Sergeant Williams says younger drivers typically text more behind the wheel a reason why he's encouraging parents to talk with their children about the dangers and the consequences.
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