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Breaking Down Alabama's New Distracted Driving Hands-Free Law

Driver holding a smartphone while behind the wheel.

Alabama drivers who don’t obey the state’s new Hands-Free Law can soon expect to receive a ticket from police for violating the new regulation aimed at preventing distracted driving accidents.

“I think anything you can do to help people get to their destination safer is good, and we all see a lot of things going on the roads these days,” Sergeant Josh Hastings of the Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Office said in an interview with CBS 42 News. “Whatever we can do to take (away) distractions, makes it safer for the community.”

How common are distracted driving accidents in Alabama?

Alabama recently created a new law prohibiting drivers from holding a cell phone while driving because distracted driving remains a serious problem in the state. According to the most recent accident statistics compiled by Drive Safe Alabama, in 2022, distracted drivers caused 67 car accident fatalities. The year before, distracted drivers caused 49 fatalities. That’s an increase of 36 percent in just one year.

What is Alabama’s new distracted driving law?

Alabama’s new hands-free cell phone driving law goes into effect in June 2024. According to CBS 42 News, the new law gives state and local law enforcement officers the power to issue a ticket to a driver who is observed holding a cell phone while driving.

Alabama’s new hands-free law is a secondary offense, which means that a police officer must observe a driver committing another traffic offense in order to stop the driver and issue a traffic citation for violating the hands-free law.

Drivers who violate Alabama’s hands-free law will be fined $50 and have a penalty point added to their driving record. The penalty for a second offense is a $100 fine and two points added to a driver’s driving record. According to CBS 42 News, the third offense within 24 months carries a $150 fine and a three-point driver’s license penalty.

Does Alabama have any other distracted driving laws?

Along with Alabama’s new hands-free law, the state has several other distracted driving laws. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), other distracted driving laws in Alabama include:

  • No texting while driving, which is a primary offense. That means that police can stop a driver if they observe the driver reading, writing, or sending a text message.
  • Drivers who are 16 or 17 years old or who have had an intermediate driver’s license for less than 6 months cannot use a cell phone while driving.
  • School bus drivers in Alabama cannot use a cell phone while driving for any reason.

Why is using a cell phone while driving dangerous?

Cell phone use while driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents, each with potentially devastating consequences. Here are the primary types of crashes commonly linked to cell phone usage:

Rear-End Collisions

When drivers are distracted by their cell phones, whether texting, browsing, or talking, their reaction times are significantly delayed. This often results in rear-end collisions, where the distracted driver fails to notice that traffic has slowed or stopped ahead.

Side-Swipe Accidents

Using a cell phone can cause drivers to drift out of their lanes, causing side-swipe accidents. These typically occur when a driver is not fully aware of their surroundings and veers into an adjacent lane, colliding with another vehicle.

Head-On Collisions

Among the most dangerous outcomes of cell phone distraction is a head-on collision. This can happen when a driver, looking down at their phone, inadvertently departs their lane and crosses into oncoming traffic, leading to catastrophic results.

T-Bone Accidents

These occur at intersections and are often the result of a driver being too distracted by their phone to notice traffic signals or signs. Failing to observe a stop sign or red light can lead a driver to enter an intersection illegally, striking another vehicle from the side.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Accidents

Drivers using their phones might not see pedestrians or cyclists crossing roads, especially in urban or residential areas. These accidents can be particularly severe due to the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists.

How can a distracted driving accident lawyer help?

If a distracted driver clearly caused your collision, you might think you don’t need an attorney to help you recover compensation for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. However, many car accident claims in Alabama quickly turn into complicated legal cases. That’s because the at-fault driver’s insurance company often does everything it can to pay victims as little as possible—or nothing at all.

We at Dean Waite & Associates, LLC, know what's at stake. That’s why our law firm is here to help you demand the financial compensation you deserve. If you were injured by a distracted driver in Mobile or anywhere in Mobile County, Alabama, don’t hesitate. Call Dean Waite and learn how our dedicated legal team can help you.

Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation. We handle accident claims throughout Alabama.

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