ALEA launching anti-texting while driving campaign

From April 10 to 15, law enforcement personnel will use a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving. This effort is part of a national campaign called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. A high-visibility enforcement initiative, it blends intense enforcement of anti-texting laws with advertising and media outreach to notify motorists of the initiative and convince them to obey the law.

“Not only is driving and texting irresponsible, but it is illegal,” said Col. John E. Richardson, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, a division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. “People who break Alabama’s texting law will be stopped and fined. It’s simple: If you drive and text, you will pay.”

Violating Alabama’s texting law, which became effective Aug. 1, 2012, can be costly. (Copy of law is attached.) The fine for the first citation is $25, with fines jumping to $50 for the second violation and $75 for the third or subsequent violation.

In 2013 across the nation, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

According to a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

“Some people may say texting while driving is an epidemic. Well, we believe enforcing our state’s texting law is part of the cure,” Richardson said.

The U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign is national in scope, and it has qualified for and received approximately $8.4 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to support this and other efforts designed to fight distracted driving.