Distracted Driving. Why do I write about this topic so frequently? It’s because I talk to people injured in Alabama car accidents on a daily basis. Far too many of them were hurt in crashes caused by a distracted driver.
I’ve reviewed crashes involving lots of different distractions. Drivers distracted by other passengers. Drivers distracted by searching for something in the car. Drivers distracted by social media while driving. I have even worked cases with drivers distracted by watching videos while driving. Many distractions are possible. But, the biggest factor for distracted driving is the cell phone. By far!
I’ve written several past articles about efforts in Alabama to pass a true hands-free law. You can read a couple of them here:
Like so many issues of public health and safety, the Alabama Legislature rarely acts to protect the public. When it does, it’s never fast! It’s been decades since the legislature addressed our workers’ compensation act in a positive way! But, that’s a topic for another day.
I’ve been asking whether our legislature would act for several years concerning hands-free cellphone calls while driving. While Alabama has previously enacted a law that prohibits texting while driving, that law does not prevent calling and talking while holding a cellphone.
I support a hands-free law. It would save lives and prevent many needless injuries. A hands-free law helps but does not cure the problem. In my prior articles, I discussed the larger issues of dangerous distracted driving.
Here’s what I mean when I say that a hands-free law would help but not completely fix the problem. A hands-free law would definitely reduce the manual distraction of reaching and typing into a phone. It would also reduce the visual distraction of looking at the phone instead of the road. But, that still leaves the cognitive distraction of giving your mental attention to a conversation rather than the road around you. Distracted driving involves three types of distraction: Manual, Visual and Cognitive. While a hands-free law should help, it’s not a complete cure.
Many other states have passed hands-free driving laws. What does the data show? Do these laws reduce car accident injuries?
In the September 2021 issue, the medical journal Epidemiology took a look at the data. You can read the research at: Bans On Cellphone Use While Driving And Traffic Fatalities In The United States. The article starts by noting that as of January 2020, 18 states had banned almost all handheld cellphone use while driving. After looking at all the data, the researchers concluded handheld bans resulted in lower rates of driver deaths.
A true hands-free cellphone law would protect lives and improve highway safety. Our legislature should act and protect people on our roads.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm helps people across Alabama following serious car and truck crashes. Outside the courtroom, we continue to advocate for safer roadways, safer workplaces and safer products.