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Mayor proposes citywide ban on texting while driving
Proposed ordinance would make Huntsville largest city in Alabama with such a ban


HUNTSVILLE, AL (June 21, 2010) -With statewide legislation banning texting while driving on hold, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle today announced a proposed ordinance that represents an innovative step toward ensuring the safety of Huntsville drivers. The mayor's "Eyes on the Road - Huntsville " policy, which began in January by banning texting while driving for all city employees, would be expanded to a citywide ban of texting while driving for all motorists.

Mayor Battle's policy, in response to the growing number of drivers who text-message while driving, would make it illegal to send or receive text messages, check e-mail or view digital pictures or video while driving in the city limits. Under his proposal, drivers caught texting would be fined $100 for a first offense. Repeat offenders could be hit with an up to $500 and sent to jail for up to three months.

"In 2008, more than 6,000 people were killed due to driver distraction and inattention," said Mayor Battle. "More than half a million people were injured. The "Eyes on the Road - Huntsville" policy on text messaging while driving vehicles will not only help save lives and reduce injuries, but will help bring some common sense back to our roads."

Text messaging, the exchange of brief, written messages by mobile device, has grown quickly over the past four years -- more than 110 billion text messages are transmitted monthly in the U.S. While text messaging has improved the flow of communication, texting while driving has proven to be a deadly problem on the road.

Studies show that approximately one in five U.S. drivers admit to texting while driving at least once in the last 30 days and, when drivers text, their collision risk is 23 times greater than when not texting.

"When you don't wear a seat belt, you put your life at risk," added Mayor Battle. "When you text while driving, you put everyone's life at risk."

For clarification, "texting" or "text messaging" refers to reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device, including for the purpose of SMS texting, e-mailing, instant messaging, or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.

"With nearly 2,300 city employees, our government has had an internal ban on texting while driving since late January," said Mayor Battle. "Now, rather than only leading by example, we're proposing this ordinance for council approval to help save the lives of our commuters."

Mayor Battle added "This is common sense legislation."

"It just requires people to pay attention while they drive and keep their eyes on the road and I think the end result is that it ends up saving lives."

Huntsville would become the fourth Alabama city to ban texting while operating a motor vehicle but the largest in the state. Other cities with similar bans are Jacksonville, Vestavia Hills and Roanoke.

Attached is the proposed ordinance. It will be introduced to the City Council on Thursday, June 24, 2010.

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