The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 27, 2012

State troopers issue 59 texting citations in 2012

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama state police say they've issued 59 citations for texting-while-driving since a ban went into effect Aug. 1.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported the year-to-date numbers (http://on.mgmadv.com/RS0lnK ).

Alabama State Patrol officials say they issued the 59 citations, and they've only heard of seven citations being written by other law enforcement agencies in the state.

"Most of the texting that I see is in city traffic," said Sgt. Steve Jarrett, a spokesman for the department. "Troopers patrol the rural parts of the state, outside of cities that have police protection. If a trooper sees violations in the city, he takes action. But typically they patrol outside cities in other parts of the state."

The texting-white-driving law, sponsored by Springville Republican Rep. Jim McClendon, was signed by Gov. Robert Bentley in May. It provides for a fine of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second and $75 for each subsequent offense. Each conviction would carry a two-point penalty on a license.

Drivers can send text messages through voice-activated software, and may use the device while parked on a shoulder, or to summon emergency services.

In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated distracted driving caused 15 deaths and 1,200 injuries per day.

McClendon said he has no plans during the next legislative session to introduce any alterations to the law.

"A lot of people have said thank you to me, because (they say) 'Now I just don't do it until I get the car stopped,'" he said.

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