By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Rep. Jim McClendon’s Texting While Driving Ban Bill has passed in a House Committee and heads to the full House of Representatives for approval there.
“The Banning Texting bill, while operating a motor vehicle in Alabama will save lives,” said McClendon.
For several years now, Rep. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) has introduced a bill in the Alabama Legislature that would prohibit cell phone users from text messaging while they are driving an automobile. Generally the ban on texting while driving bill passes in the Alabama House of Representatives; but has never comes to the floor of the Alabama Senate because of delaying tactics by Senators who are supported by the Alabama cell phone industry.
“It is true that we have passed this bill several times in the house,” said McClendon. “This time it is going directly to the senate and the rules committee chairman Sen. Waggner has assured me that there will be prompt action on it.”
Rep. McClendon believes that this year will be different and that his bill will make it out of the stack of 420 pre-filed bills to be signed into law by Gov. Bentley.
“it looks like this could be the year for the texting bill to be enacted,” said McClendon.
Since Rep. McClendon first introduced his texting while driving ban bill over 30 other states have passed similar legislation. Texting while driving is illegal in 34 states and it is a primary offense in 31 states.
A new poll taken by Nationwide Insurance Company show that 80% of drivers supports a ban on text messaging while driving and most would support a ban on all cell phone use while driving. The NHTSA reports that 10% percent of drivers aged 16 to 24 years old are on their phone at any point in time. A study by Carnegie Mellon reports that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.
McClendon said, “It is likely that a higher percentage of those whose lives will be saved will be teenagers because they tend to be a higher percentage of those who do it.” Although he points out, “There are a plenty of folks in the Statehouse who are senior citizen who text and drive. And everyone of them has said they would be glad to stop doing that. It’s like they can’t get away from it.
A staggering 32,885 Americans were killed in motor vehicle collisions in 2010. That is the lowest number since 1949. According to the Alabama State Troopers 489 people were killed on Alabama’s roads in 2010 which is down from 728 fatalities in 2007. The number one factor in traffic deaths is still drunk driving. Drunken driving was responsible for 10,228 traffic deaths in 2010 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA blamed distracted driving including text messaging for 3,029 traffic fatalities although U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood believes that number is still under reported.
“Every parent in Alabama should be happy to see this bill pass, said McClendon, It will save many lives.
In December, Secretary Ray LaHood called for Congress to take it out of the states’ hands and pass a nationwide texting while driving ban.
Sec. LaHood said, “We have to be able to get people to understand that this is very, very dangerous behavior,” To learn more about distracted driving: http://www.distraction.gov/index.html