Alabama lawmaker plans to file Hands Free Bill, similar to Georgia's new driving law

One Alabama lawmaker wants to make it illegal to hold your phone while driving.

Sen. Jim McClendon (R- Springville) plans to file a bill very similar to the one Georgia enacted in July.

“Their early results are showing a decrease of crashes and a decrease in texting and driving,” said McClendon. “Basically, the bill says you can’t touch your phone. You can’t prop it up. You can’t have it in your hand. You can’t physically come in contact with your telephone.”

McClendon says his goal is to reduce crash rates in Alabama.

Alabama already has a law that prohibits texting and driving.

“It is illegal to text and drive but it’s very difficult to enforce that,” said McClendon. “If you see someone with a cell phone in their hand, are you sure if they’re sending a text or putting in a phone number? The text is illegal. The phone number is legal. So it makes it very difficult for law enforcement to enforce that bill.”

Ryan Holtzclaw is one Alabama driver who uses his phone, on the go.

“Music, GPS, maybe have to respond to a quick work email when you’re on your way in stopped at a red light,” said Holtzclaw. “You don’t’ want to do it when you’re driving down the highway.”

Holtzclaw says he understands the safety concerns associated with distracted driving.

Still, he thinks Georgia's hands free law goes too far and he wouldn’t support its adoption in Alabama.

“There is pros and cons to it, but overall I would say no,” said Holtzclaw. “We use our phones everyday for everything.”

Norman Collum, on the other hand, is a driver who wants Alabama to become a hands-free state.

“I’m 84 years old and I feel like you can’t be talking on the phone or nothing when you’re driving,” Collum told us.

Collum calls it a safety issue.

“In the last five or six years, I’ve been very careful and I can tell there’s a difference,” he said.

“The goal is to reduce the crash rates, the death rates on our highway in Alabama,” said McClendon. “There’s good data that shows that the accident and crash rate for texting and driving is pretty much the same for drunk driving. It’s very serious and it’s pretty common and people in Alabama are aware of this.”

McClendon says he's already talked with other state lawmakers who are also working on versions of hands-free bills. He calls that a good sign of support for one of the proposals to pass.

Lawmakers return to Montgomery for the 2019 legislative session on March fifth.

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