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Statewide Texting and Driving Ban Starts Aug. 1


City of Huntsville FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2012

(Huntsville, AL) - Alabama's newly passed ban on texting and driving takes effect on Wednesday, Aug. 1, earning the state the distinction of becoming one of 39 in the nation to prohibit texting and driving. The new ban forbids any driver operating a motor vehicle from sending and reading text messages, instant messages and emails, but stops short of disallowing calls and cell phone dialing.

"Huntsville took the bold step in 2010 in passing an ordinance that made it illegal to send, receive, download or view electronic or digital content while driving," said Mayor Tommy Battle. "I am proud to see the state taking an additional stand that will save lives."

Huntsville police say the new state law will make it easier for officers to stop violators.

"As the City's ordinance currently stands, officers would only issue a citation for texting and driving if it was a secondary offense, meaning the driver was stopped for a different offense," said Deputy Chief Kirk Giles. "The new state law makes it a primary offense, which allows any law enforcement officer in Alabama to stop motorists that they see or suspect is texting and driving."

While the new fines are less punitive than the City's ordinance, $25 for a first offense versus $100, violators will now receive a two point violation on their driving record. Deputy Chief Giles says all of his officers will be familiar with the elements of the new state law.

Huntsville Rep. Mac McCutcheon, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said his intent was to save lives. "It took six years to get this bill approved, and I am proud that the legislature finally passed it with a unanimous vote," he said.

According to the National Transportation and Safety Bureau, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver's eye off the road for an average 4.6 seconds the equivalent -at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.

Further, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

The concerns have led AT&T to commit to a four-year, multi-million dollar campaign called "Texting and Driving: It Can Wait."

"We know that while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, at least 43 percent admit to doing it, and 75 percent say the practice is common among their friends," said Dave Hargrove, Regional Director for AT&T.

The message is safety first for all motorists, no matter what the age. It means no sending text messages, no reading e-mail, no scrolling through music files, and no peeking at YouTube. It can wait.

For more information, contact:

Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, City of Huntsville, 256-427-5006 (w), kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov



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