Alabama’s law banning texting while driving went into effect August 1, meaning you need to be careful not to encourage employees to text and drive while on the job.
House Bill 2 prohibits “any person from operating a motor vehicle on a public street, road, or highway while also text messaging on a handheld cell phone or other handheld wireless telecommunication device.” The new law expands on other legislation that already prohibited text messaging or phone use by those under 18 holding a restricted license.
The law imposes a $25 fine for the first violation, a $50 fine for a second violation, and a $75 fine for a third violation. In addition, a conviction will constitute a two-point violation on the violator’s driving record.
The new law makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can pull over suspected violators and cite them instead of citing them after pulling them over for another offense.
The state law follows efforts on the federal level to encourage employers to ban texting while driving. In an open letter to employers in 2010, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated, “It is [the employer’s] responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and that would include having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving. Companies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.”
In addition, President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2009 banning federal employees from texting while driving on the job.