Laws against texting and driving are created in the hopes that public safety improves. Despite these intentions, implementing a law that is aimed at improving public safety is no guarantee the law will be effective. This understanding led Alabama reporters to investigate whether Alabama’s statewide ban on texting and driving has been effective.
Is Alabama’s Texting and Driving Ban an Effective Law?
Since 2012, it has been against the law to text and drive in Alabama. As a result, there is now a nearly five-year sample size to determine whether the initiative has had a substantial impact in reducing distracted driving accidents.
To answer these questions, reporters from WBRC Fox 6 News requested accident statistics from several cities as well as the statewide statistics. The findings are not particularly encouraging.
In Vestavia Hills, Hoover and Jefferson County alike, the number of accidents have increased every year since the law was implemented. Now, this is in itself is not necessarily cause for alarm since these counties do not detail how many of these accidents were caused by distracted driving. However, the Center of Public Safety at the University of Alabama does provide this information at a statewide level.
The Center of Public Safety also found that distracted driving accidents have, on the whole, risen significantly since the texting and driving ban. In 2012 — the year that the texting and driving ban took effect — 1,190 distracted driving accidents were reported. The following year, distracted driving accidents were down at 1,113 accidents, which was welcomed as great news. Unfortunately, the accidents jumped in every year since:
- 2014: 1,323 distracted driving accidents
- 2015: 1,390 distracted driving accidents
- 2016: 1,586 distracted driving accidents (and the 2016 data has not yet been finalized)
Worse, state statisticians say these numbers don’t even reveal how big the problem truly is. According to Rhonda Stricklin, the Associate Director at the Center for Advanced Public Safety, experts know that the distracted driving numbers are “higher than what the actual reports show.” Everyone who texts and drives will not get caught or crash their vehicle, and even if they do, distracted driving may not be cited as the reason for the crash. After all, the officer who arrives on the scene will need to have some proof that texting and driving was the cause of the crash, which may not be possible.
That said, it is hasty to say that the ban is not working. Mobile phones continue to be an increasingly important part of everyday life, so the rise in distracted driving accidents could be tied to the increase in smartphone usage. Similarly, this data does not indicate how many lives were saved by the ban or how many Alabamans have chosen not to text and drive.
Still, what is clear is that texting and driving continues to threaten the safety of Alabama drivers. If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligent or distracted driving, you need an Alabama injury attorney who will help you determine who is at fault and whether you have a strong legal claim to deserved compensation.
Noel B. Leonard is an Alabama personal injury attorney who helps victims receive compensation for their injuries when negligent parties or distracted drivers are at fault. From his office in Foley, Noel represents distracted driving accident victims in Foley as well as victims in Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties.
Contact Alabama injury lawyer Noel B. Leonard or call 251-943-8638 for a legal consultation to discuss the facts of your distracted driving accident and injuries.