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Alabama may outlaw holding a smart phone while driving


Alabama legislators may soon make it illegal to hold your phone while you drive. A bill up for consideration in the legislative session would make all phone use during driving a punishable offense. Texting and driving is illegal in Alabama. But drivers can still use their phone to change songs or check directions. Allison Green is the Drive Safe Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Transportation. She says drivers have been caught using devices to watch TV shows, videocall friends and play games while at the wheel.

“Distracted driving is an issue for all age groups,” said Green. “What we are seeing is that thirty-four years and younger, particularly, have grown up with a device in their hand, so it is more of a challenge for them. But ultimately, all age groups are having an issue with distracted driving these days.”

The Alabama Department of Transportation says forty-seven people were killed in driving accidents in 2019 where the driver was distracted by a cell phone or other device. That’s up from thirty-nine in 2018. Pedestrian fatalities in Alabama have increased over 60% since 2009, including accidents where walkers were distracted with electronic devices. Allison Green says the public should use hands-free accessories with their devices so they are less distracted by their screens when driving.

“It can also impact someone who has had an incident with their vehicle. Maybe their vehicle stopped working and they are along the road changing their tire. We have seen people who have been hit whilst changing their tire because the drivers on the interstate were distracted and veered off just a couple of inches. But that is all it takes sometimes to kill someone.”

In 2021 there were at least forty-nine fatalities in Alabama due to distracted driving. But Green says she believes this to be an underestimation.

Poppy Jacobs is an international student from England interning at Alabama Public Radio. Poppy majors in Political Science and Philosophy. She plans to pursue a career in journalism after completing her studies. In her free time, Poppy enjoys watching sports, particularly soccer (“football”) and Formula 1 motorsports, as well as reading, working out and travelling with her friends.

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