Distracted driving is a frequent topic on my blog. This month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. So, it’s a perfect time to discuss proposals currently pending in the Alabama Legislature to prevent drivers from holding their cellphone while driving.
Last year, Georgia enacted a hands-free law for drivers. Will Alabama pass similar legislation? As I write this post, I checked the Alabama Legislature information website concerning pending bills. The website lists two hands-free bills currently making their way through the legislative process. I read both bills and they are almost identical. These two pending bills are: HB6 and HB404. You can access the legislative information website HERE.
I’ll focus here on HB6 which was introduced by Representative Allen Farley. If passed, it will be known as Cici’s Law. Local channel WHNT posted an article telling Cici’s story. Cici was 17 and just months shy of graduating from high school. On February 28, 2018, she was driving home from work down Interstate 65. She had a bright future and a loving family. While driving home, she was recording a message on her phone — a Happy Birthday message to a friend. She briefly looked down. When she looked back up, it was too late. She was not speeding. Still, she had no time to stop and went underneath an 18 wheeler stopped in front of her.
Once the bill passes the Alabama House of Representatives, it will go to the Alabama Senate. Senator Cam Ward has already provided his support. Here is a video report from CBS 42 from 2018 discussing Georgia’s new law and support in Alabama for something similar:
The WHNT article quotes a local Huntsville driver about the proposal. I can relate to his experience as can many of the people in our community:
I drive down South Parkway all the time. I live on the south side of Huntsville and you kind of daily see someone that’s hitting the edge of the lane and you get up next to them and they’ve got their phone in their hand steering wheel in the other . . .
The WHNT article is titled, Alabama Lawmaker Proposing Hands-Free Cellphone Law For Drivers and quotes a local driver named Cory. The article also discusses the very positive reaction of local police and HEMSI paramedics.
Is a hands-free law a good idea? Hands free does NOT mean risk free. I’ve written previously about the many different distractions drivers face. While cellphones are certainly the biggest modern distraction for drivers, they are not the only one. A hands-free law helps. If you are holding a device, you don’t have both hands on the wheel. If you are holding and using a device, your eyes and mind are distracted. When we drive, we need to be focused manually, visually and cognitively on the road. The safety of everyone around us depends upon it.
The Blackwell Law Firm specializes in serious personal injury cases. Many of these cases involve crashes caused by distracted or impaired drivers. Outside of court, we continue to write, teach and advocate on highway safety issues. If you have comments or questions about one of our articles, let us know. If you would like to discuss a potential case or legal issue, call or email us. All consultations are confidential and free.