HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (WHNT) — It is now illegal to hold a cell phone while driving a moving vehicle in Alabama. If caught, you face a class C misdemeanor.
A Huntsville City Council member is looking to go further with this law in an effort to make city streets safer.
Huntsville Councilman David Little introduced an amended ordinance in August at a city council meeting, aimed at strengthening the city’s existing law that restricts the use of wireless communication devices while driving.
If approved, the order would prohibit drivers from doing any of the following while operating a vehicle:
- Use a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, read or otherwise participate in any text-based communication;
- View, record or capture a photo or video;
- Participate in voice communications while using a portable wireless telecommunications device; Or
- Physically holding or otherwise supporting a wireless telecommunications device with any part of your body.
The updated order would also allow law enforcement to treat a breach of a portable wireless communication device as a primary offense.
“The city’s existing ordinance prohibits texting and only allows officers to treat a violation as a secondary violation,” Little said. “It is also very difficult to apply. This amended legislation gives law enforcement the ability to more easily issue citations for offenses related to portable wireless communication devices and keep our roads safe.
“No phone call, no text…I don’t care if it’s a business matter or if you’re calling your spouse to tell them you’re late for home…none of that is worth worth dying. None of this is worth getting hurt, hurting anyone else, or killing anyone else,” Little said.
In 2008, Little and his family were involved in a car accident related to distracted driving. He was seriously injured, hospitalized for two weeks and in a wheelchair for three months. He has since recovered and is using his experience to educate others about the dangers of distracted driving.
“I’ve learned that’s still a problem. It’s a challenge to get laws at the state level, which we’ve been trying for four or five years. The state passed one in April in the last legislative session, but to be honest with you…it wasn’t a very good law, in my opinion,” Little said.
Instructor Joseph Morrison of the Alabama Driving Academy in Huntsville says the proposal is a good step forward in preventing distracted driving.
“It may be a nightmare to enforce, but prioritizing it…it’s part of the accountability that we struggle to convey to these children.” When you’re driving a car, it’s not just you, but everyone you interact with,” Morrison said.
In reference to Alabama’s new hands-free law, Morrison told News 19 it’s long overdue.
“90% of new driver crashes are due to distraction…and it’s not just texting and driving. I mean you can be distracted by a perfectly legal phone call, a billboard, anything you eat…anything other than that windshield is considered a distraction,” Morrison added.
Huntsville City Council is expected to vote on the amended ordinance next Thursday, September 14. If passed, it will enter into force in January. Councilor Little encourages the public to attend.
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