Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

New Alabama texting, driving legality trumped by sensibility

The newest Alabama law to consume our media is yet another that epitomizes legal impracticality.

Alabama’s texting while driving law went into effect a few weeks ago. And, as all ideas originate, it had admirable intentions. Car and Driver magazine found that texting while driving produces a slower reaction time than drinking and driving. Texting while driving is a clear danger to anyone on the road.

Yet the law stated exceptions: GPS use is permissible, and texting while in “stop” is allowed. In the world of smart phones, all it takes is a few clicks to exit out of a text screen and onto a GPS application. And any Tuscaloosa driver knows, half the annoyances derived from texting friends come from delayed stops at a stop light, while the car in front of you finishes up their text message. The other half come from cars swerving into lanes while texting, tweeting or whatever it is that is so incredibly vital.

Even if caught, the fines range from $25 to $100 depending on the number of offenses. As a college student, $25 sounds like a lofty fine, but I’m imagining that most cellphone owning citizens of Alabama find this fee laughable.

Alabama is one of 39 states with this ban in effect, so they aren’t alone in this practically irreprehensible law. After New York altered the texting and driving law into a primary offense, their texting-and-driving-related arrests almost doubled.

Yet, obviously, people are breaking the law – a law that prevents malignant behavior, instilled to protect the safety of everyone in the vicinity of your automobile.

But why we need a law to tell us not to endanger ourselves and those on the road around us is a troubling tell-all about our society.

The dependency on cellphones is not limited to those in the driver’s seat, of course. Students walk around the Quad, eyes locked on a screen in between their hands, rather than the beautiful campus around us (or, more importantly, the cars on their heels, threatening to run them over). I watch many sit in classes they pay for, yet they devote more time to refreshing their Twitter feed than listening to the knowledge being taught. More still complained about “not being able to get on Facebook” or text at the game on Saturday. They must have been so bored watching the greatest team in the nation, or too awkward to talk to the person next to them.

It’s this relationship with our cellphones that is the true problem behind the anti-texting and driving law. People are obsessed with their phones. Can’t leave the house, must always have charger, obsessed. And, to be fair, times have changed since landlines were all the rage. Who even has a landline anymore?

But the level of dependency often witnessed is deplorable. In the case of driving, it is one so pathetic that answering a text message is apparently equal tradeoff for risking your life.

Yet, while the law gives legal reason not to pick up your phone while you’re in the car, common sense should give you an even greater one.

Recent commercials sponsored by AT&T narrate two stories, both of individuals whose lives have been intensely altered by texting related car accidents. One is of a boy, limited by physical and mental handicaps for the rest of his life, and the other, a sister speaking of her dead sibling’s accident. The chilling recounts and simple on-screen texts leave you almost silent, staring. These commercials do far more than any law could in convincing texters.

We have all texted when we weren’t supposed to. And many times, it’s harmless. But when driving, it is an unnecessary and unacceptable danger. Waiting to answer until you reach your destination isn’t too lofty of a request.

Regardless of government action or not, for the safety of yourself and those around you, take your eyes off the screen. Or, as the old newsroom verbalism suggests, just “hold the phone.”

SoRelle Wyckoff is the Opinions Editor of The Crimson White.


More to Discover