MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - The Alabama House of Representatives convenes for the sixth day of the 2012 Regular Session Tuesday set to take up a bill that would finally ban texting while driving on Alabama roads.
House Bill 2, known as the "TTYL Act," would prohibit driving a vehicle on an Alabama highway or street while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send or read a text-based communication, including email. The catchy title "TTYL," which is text-message lexicon for "talk to you later," is intended to reach the texting-crazed 16-25 demographic to encourage them to drive more responsibly.
Statistics show that sending and receiving text messages while operating a vehicle is as likely or more likely to contribute to a deadly crash than drunken driving. While cities and counties across Alabama have passed their own local "texting" bans, bill sponsor Representative Jim McClendon (R-Springville) said it is on trooper-patrolled state highways where high speeds make distracted driving especially deadly.
"We all know sending text messages or emails inhibits a driver's ability to operate a vehicle by taking their eyes of the road, hands off the steering wheel and mind off the task of driving," Rep. McClendon said. "We have traffic laws to protect citizens from risky driving behaviors, and those laws must keep up with the times. It's time we protect our families on the highways by addressing the problem of texting while driving."
House Speaker Mike Hubbard said he supports Rep. McClendon's bill and will work to see it enacted because it means saving lives.
"The simple fact is this bill will save lives," Speaker Hubbard said. "I'd say almost every driver has allowed themselves to be distracted by a text or email. We're all in too big of a hurry. What drivers need to understand is that it's not just their own lives, but the lives of others on the road that are endangered by texting. We need to empower law enforcement officers to protect our highways by passing a law that prohibits texting while driving once and for all."
According to a University of Utah study, distraction from a phone delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers who use cell phones are four times as likely to get into an injury-causing crash.
This is the fifth year Rep. McClendon has proposed this type of legislation. The bill has passed the House twice, but failed to receive final passage by the Senate. However, this year the bill has a powerful co-sponsor in State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills), who chairs the agenda-setting Rules Committee and serves as the Senate Majority Leader.
"Texting while driving creates a danger to all of us that is 100 percent preventable. We owe it to the people of Alabama to pass this legislation," Sen. Waggoner said. "This bill will save lives."
The House convenes at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
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