War on words kills Alabama’s texting bill
Legislators in Alabama were mostly in favor of banning texting while driving this year. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.
House Bill 35 would have prohibited text messaging while driving on Alabama’s roads. Fines would have been of 25$ for a first offense, up to 75$. It received a large approval in a 95-3 vote in the House, but it then had to face the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Some, like Sen. Roger Bedford, claim the bill failed because of the resistance from insurance companies, mostly Alfa Services. Others, like the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim McClendon, think it died because some senators who happened to be lawyers were convinced that a texting bill also need to cover criminal negligence for drivers involved in an accident while texting.
“Bedford said if it wasn’t in there, he wouldn’t let it come up,” said McClendon.
Many people actually seemed to disagree with the notion of negligence in the texting ban. A representative from State Farm said his company was behind the original bill, as the focus should have been on reducing the risk of accidents more than on defining one’s responsibility in a car crash caused by distracted driving.
But Bedford would not change his mind. Unless a texting ban includes the notion of criminal negligence, he refused to agree with the bill. Therefore, House Bill 35 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It was the second time Sen. McClendon tried to ban texting while driving in Alabama. In 2009, a similar measure had approval from the House, and failed to get approve in the Senate. Hoping third time is a charm, he promises to try again next year.
“Fatalities on our highways are simple enough to prevent. If you don’t use seat belts, you put yourself at risk. When you text message, you put everybody at risk,” he said.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, April 26, 2010