Alabama’s Distracted Driving Laws Don’t Work — Contact Citrin Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured in a Wreck
Like most states, Alabama has a law that limits texting and driving. But even though the police can stop you for texting while driving in our state, this law hasn’t reduced the number of fatal distracted driving deaths. Instead, distracted driving-related crashes and deaths continue to rise.
Keep reading to learn about the newest developments in Alabama distracted driving laws and find out how you can protect yourself after a car accident that involves distracted driving.
Alabama’s Texting and Driving Laws Are a Start, But They Don’t Solve the Problem
Alabama law limits the use of electronic devices in cars. Teen drivers under 18 cannot use any mobile electronic device while driving. If a teen gets caught using an electronic device, they can face additional driver’s training requirements, up to $350 in fines, court costs, and the suspension of their driver’s license.
For adults, Alabama’s texting and driving law is more complicated. The law only covers devices like smartphones and computers as well as older devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs). Alabama’s law does not cover hardwired screens like in-dash “infotainment” systems.
Also, our state’s prohibitions on electronic distractions are very limited. Under Alabama law, adults cannot write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving. It’s also illegal to program an address into a GPS app or device while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
RELATED ARTICLE: Teen Texting and Driving: Education About Risks Works
However, the law doesn’t address video streaming services, games, or video chat apps. In other words, while adult drivers can’t check their email or post on Facebook, it’s technically legal for them to engage in equally risky behaviors like binge-watching television or playing Candy Crush. Alabama law also allows drivers to dial phone numbers while driving and check their GPS systems and onboard infotainment systems.
Alabama doesn’t set additional standards for commercial drivers like those who operate school buses, delivery trucks, and 18-wheelers. In many other states, commercial drivers must operate their devices in a hands-free mode.
Not only are our state’s distracted driving laws lax, but the penalties associated with violations are minor. First-time violations only result in a $25 fine for an adult, and repeat offenders only face up to $75 in fines per incident. You’ll also get two points on your license for each violation.
Distracted Driving Deaths Are Increasing in Alabama
Alabama’s texting and driving law went into effect in 2012. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, there were only 24 fatalities and 429 serious injuries due to distracted and drowsy driving in 2009. In 2015, three years after the law went into effect, distracted and drowsy driving caused 84 deaths and 1,194 serious injuries.
RELATED ARTICLE: Dangers of Distracted Driving in Alabama
The department also notes distracted driving crashes go underreported since distracted driving is hard to prove. Many distracted drivers simply deny using their phones. According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), roughly 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving at any given time on U.S. roads.
Some Alabama Lawmakers Are Pushing for a Hands-Free Driving Law
In November 2018, State Senator Jim McClendon announced his plans to introduce a new hands-free law this year. McClendon intends to propose a bill that would prohibit drivers from holding any electronic device while driving. He says there is good support for hands-free driving legislation amongst lawmakers, and our attorneys will carefully monitor the bill’s progress throughout the year.
2 Things You Need to Do After a Crash with a Distracted Driver in Alabama
If you suspect that a driver was texting or using their phone during a crash, you need to act quickly to protect your legal rights. Most distracted drivers will deny using their phones, so proving distracted driving often requires careful and thorough investigation. Truckers and other commercial drivers are especially like to lie about distraction since they may face termination or discipline from their employer for violating company policies.
If a distracted driver hits and injures you, take the following steps:
1. Call 911 and cooperate with the law enforcement investigation
After a car accident, you should always call 911 and file an accident report. The police and other first responders will come to the scene, tend to your injuries, and investigate the crash. If you believe that distracted driving contributed to an accident, make sure you voice your concerns to the police.
2. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to investigate a distracted driving claim
Before you discuss your injuries with an insurance company adjuster, you should always consult an experienced injury lawyer. You’ll need more than suspicions about texting or phone use to prove your injury claim.
RELATED ARTICLE: Most Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we know how to obtain cell phone records, witness statements, and other important evidence that can prove a driver was texting or distracted. For example, many semi-trucks have electronic monitoring systems that record drivers’ behavior. However, if you don’t move fast, the trucking company may destroy this evidence. Our lawyers act quickly and aggressively after a crash to preserve “black box” data, driver’s logs, and other valuable information that can prove distraction and negligence.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Committed to a Safer Alabama
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that personal injury claims not only improve our clients’ lives but also make Alabama a safer place. If a distracted driver caused your or a loved one’s serious injuries, contact us today. We’d love to listen to your story and help you understand your legal options at no cost to you. To request your free consultation, fill out our quick and convenient online form or call us at 251-888-8888.
Alabama Department of Transportation. (2017, July). Alabama strategic highway safety plan. Montgomery, AL: Author. Retrieved from https://www.dot.state.al.us/dsweb/divted/TrafficSOS/pdf/Alabama_SHSP_081117.pdf
Definitions; prohibited activities; fines; exceptions. Alabama Code § 32-5A-350 (2012).
Restrictions on issuance to persons under 18 years of age. Alabama Code § 32-6-7.2 (2017).
Walsh, L. (2018, November 30). Alabama lawmaker plans to file hands free bill, similar to Georgia’s new driving law. ABC 33/40. Retrieved from https://abc3340.com/news/local/alabama-lawmaker-plans-to-file-hands-free-bill-similar-to-georgias-new-driving-law
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.