Our View: No problem with going hands free

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Alabama House of Representatives will soon vote on a bill that would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.

It seems like it would be hard to argue against anything that makes the roads safer when behind the wheel. Talking, texting, SnapChating, Facebooking — all of these require the driver’s attention to be elsewhere when driving instead of on the road. That is when accidents happen.

There are exceptions, as with any law, such as calling emergency services. First responders and utility works are also exempt from the rule, but only if they are responding to an emergency.

Email newsletter signup

The fines are pretty steep, too. The first offense hits the wallet for $50. The second violation will cost a distracted driver $100 and the third ticket and each one after that will result in a ticket of $150. Additionally, and what is likely the biggest detractor, are the points that will be added to a driver’s license with each offense. It’s two points for the first and second and three points for the third and subsequent offense.

According to the DMV, 12 points on a driver’s license triggers a suspension of 60 days. The penalties go up with more points. We argue with Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, the sponsor of the bill, when he says it won’t take long for a license to be suspended for repeat offenders.

This isn’t about telling people what to do — it’s about keeping people safe.

The law, which is named CiCi’s bill, is in the memory of a 17-year-old girl who died in a traffic crash in February 2018 because she was trying to send a SnapChat message to her friend on her birthday. While driving on I-65, she drove under an 18-wheeler stopped in her lane and she died as a result.

That’s a sobering reminder as to how fast life can change when not paying attention behind the wheel of a car.

We encourage anything that makes the roads safer in Alabama.