You can’t text and drive in Birmingham

07.13.2010 by André Natta · → 3 Comments

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Texting while at the wheel. OregonDOT/FlickrBirmingham, AL has joined Jacksonville, Vestavia Hills, Gadsden and Roanoke as the latest city to approve a ban on texting while driving.

The new ordinance was passed unanimously during this morning’s Birmingham City Council meeting. Those drivers found in violation of the the ordinance will be subject to a $100 fine.

Other cities currently considering a texting while driving ban in Alabama include Huntsville (which recently delayed their vote due to issues involving enforcement) and Decatur.

Alabama hosted the nation’s first statewide summit on distracted driving back in December (though an attempt to pass a statewide ban, while widely supported in the legislature, failed to pass in the Senate this spring). Sponsors of the bill hope to bring it up for a vote again during the upcoming legislative session.

Photo: Texting while at the wheel. OregonDOT/Flickr

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Filed under: The City

3 comments
Chris H
Chris H

Many of the comments on AL.com make this point: the ordinance is redundant, as it is already covered by reckless driving. However, I think that many drivers might not consider their own text messaging behind the wheel to be reckless, and so the new local ordinance makes it explicit. This is about awareness as much as it is about enforcement. It won't stop everyone, but it might help.I would not interpret the wording to indicate solely SMS (Short Message Service) handset functions, but anything that involves composing, reading, or sending text-based information. It is still probably too specific to cover all mis-use of a wireless phone while driving, but I wouldn't want to be the first to claim that playing Bejeweled behind the wheel is legal in a court of law.

Andre Natta
Andre Natta

Well Item 12 as presented in today's Birmingham City Council agenda read as follows:"An Ordinance to amend the General City Code of the City of Birmingham, 1980, Title 10, “Motor Vehicles and Traffic,” Chapter 8, “Miscellaneous Driving Rules,” to prohibit the use of wireless handsets to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle."I'm not sure it's sophisticated enough, but it probably conveys the message necessary (though someone will undoubtedly attempt to challenge it).

Lori Stabler
Lori Stabler

I'd like to see the text of the ordinance. There are a lot of smartphone functions that aren't texting, but involve typing. I'm interested to see if the authors were savvy enough to word the ordinance to include mobile web / facebook / twitter etc. accessed other than by SMS.