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Hands-free ordinance would strengthen Huntsville’s existing texting while driving law

Published on August 30, 2023

An amended ordinance introduced at the Aug. 24 City Council meeting seeks to strengthen Huntsville’s existing law that restricts the use of wireless communication devices while driving.

crashed car
A photo of Council Member David Little’s vehicle after he was involved in a distracted driving-related crash in December 2008.

If approved, the ordinance would prohibit drivers from doing any of the following while operating a vehicle:

  • Using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, read or otherwise engage in any text-based communication;
  • Watching, recording or capturing a photo or video;
  • Engaging in voice-based communication while using a handheld wireless telecommunications device; or
  • Physically holding or otherwise supporting a wireless telecommunications device with any part of their body.

The updated ordinance, sponsored by District 2 Council Member David Little, would also enable law enforcement to treat a handheld wireless communication device violation as a primary offense.

“The City’s existing ordinance is a no-texting ordinance, and it only allows officers to treat a violation as a secondary offense,” Little said. “It is also very hard to enforce. This amended legislation gives law enforcement the ability to issue citations more easily for handheld wireless communication device violations and keep our roadways safer.”

Not worth it

For Little, the issue of distracted driving is personal.

In 2008, Little and his family were involved in a distracted driving-related car accident that left the Council member critically injured in the hospital for two weeks and in a wheelchair for three months. Little has since recovered, but uses his experience as a victim to educate others about the dangers of distracted driving.

Updating Huntsville’s no-texting ordinance to prohibit the use of handheld devices for any reason seems like a “no brainer,” Little said.

“There’s no phone call, nothing happening on that phone that’s worth getting injured or dying or injuring or killing others,” he said.

Little began working with the Huntsville Police Department in early 2023 to amend the City’s ordinance, a move Chief Kirk Giles supports.

“Driving safely requires your full attention,” he said. “Any nondriving activity you participate in while on the road increases your chances of having an accident. This ordinance is a commonsense measure that would ensure a driver’s attention on the roadway to keep everyone safe.”

The City Council will vote on the amended ordinance during its next regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 14. If approved and adopted, the ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

To read the full ordinance, click here.