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Mayor Tommy Battle announces ban on texting while driving for City employees
Mayor, Public Safety officials also support statewide legislation banning texting while driving

HUNTSVILLE, AL (January 27, 2010) - With the Alabama State Legislature working to pass a statewide ban on texting while driving, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle today announced a proactive policy and an innovative step toward ensuring the safety of Huntsville drivers. The mayor's "Eyes on the Road - Huntsville" policy will ban texting while driving for all city employees. Those who violate the ban will be subject to disciplinary actions as outlined by the City of Huntsville Personnel Policies & Procedures Manual.

In response to the growing number of drivers who text-message while driving, Mayor Battle announced his "Eyes on the Road - Huntsville" effort - a mayoral directive prohibiting text messaging by city employees while driving.

"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 set an example for our residents."

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 can and should demonstrate leadership in reducing the dangers of text messaging while driving," said Mayor Battle. "We are committed to leading by example."

Mayor Tommy Battle, City Administrator Rex Reynolds, Chief of Police Henry Reyes and other city and public safety officials also announced their support of legislation that would enact a statewide ban on texting while driving.

The bill, HB35, sponsored by Rep. Jim McClendon of Springville and co-sponsored by local Representatives Howard Sanderford, Mike Ball, Phil Williams and Mac McCutcheon would make Alabama the 20th state to ban texting while driving.

The bill calls for a fine of $25 for the first conviction for texting while driving. A driver would be fined $50 for a second conviction and $75 for each subsequent violation. A driver would have to pay court costs if convicted.

"The Alabama Chiefs Association is in full-support of this legislation and we are proud to support it with them," said Huntsville Police Chief Henry Reyes.

Editor's Note: HB35 is attached for your review

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