Distracted Driving in Alabama – Getting Worse, Not Better

Distracted Driving in AlabamaDistracted driving is a big problem across the country. Although the state has instituted laws banning things like texting behind the wheel, distracted driving accidents continue across Alabama, and may even have increased.

According to Trusted Choice Insurance, Alabama has the second highest rate of fatal car accidents in the United States. And, in 2017, distracted driving caused at least 40 fatalities. They also mention that almost half – 43% – of Alabama teens text while driving. Further, DMV.com states that the number of texting and driving accidents in Alabama increased by 20% between 2014 and 2016, proving the issue is not yet under control.

Even though our home state passed a law banning texting and driving in 2012, it is still not illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving. A proposed 2019 bill to ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving did not make it through the Senate, and only drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in Alabama.

Exceptions to the texting and driving ban including texting for emergency services and texting while parked, as well as touching the phone to activate or deactivate certain features.

Because law enforcement can only pull over a motorist for breaking the primary law of texting and driving, they must have another cause to pull over a driver for other cell phone use. So, this means under Alabama law, even though texting and driving is illegal, drivers still technically might (especially with a voice-activated device):

  • Send and receive texts at a stop sign or red light
  • Use a handheld cell phone or device
  • Use a headset or headphones to talk on the phone
  • Browse through Facebook
  • Watch Netflix
  • Take a selfie
  • Make a TikTok
  • FaceTime with a friend

This is still distracted driving! Sgt. Joey Pitts, a traffic unit commander for the Pelham Police Department, noted that he sees drivers doing all sorts of things on their phones. “It’s frustrating because the law we have is texting and driving, not watching videos and driving,” he said.

And, fines against distracted driving offenses in Alabama are some of the lowest in the country, which provides little determent to breaking the law. For drivers over the age of 18, texting and driving comes with a $25 fine for a first offense, a $50 fine for the second, and a $75 fine for further offenses. This is considerably less than surrounding states. Trusted Choice points out that neighboring Mississippi has a $100 penalty for a first offense.

The distracted driving attorneys at Martin & Helms hold reckless drivers responsible when they cause accidents and injuries. We work to secure compensation for your losses and damages, including medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Our premier trial lawyers represent families and injury victims across North Alabama including Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, and Madison. Call us now at 256-539-1990 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation. We handle accident cases on a contingency fee basis.