MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Texting and driving is a distraction among Alabama drivers, and authorities say it was the cause of more than 1,000 vehicle accidents in 2014 for the state.
A new national campaign, "U Drive. U Text. U Pay.," launched Friday to curb texting in order to prevent accidents caused by using phones. The campaign, which will last through Wednesday, is sponsored through Alabama State Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Troopers will use a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to "crack down on motorists who text while driving," said Sgt. Steve Jarrett with ALEA.
The campaign will push for higher-visibility of troopers on the road, in order to enforce anti-texting laws, including advertisements and public outreach to stop roadway texting.
Out of more than 130,000 accidents reported last year in Alabama, 1,444 of those were caused by a driver using an electronic communication device or another electronic-type device, according to data collected by the University of Alabama Advanced Center of Public Safety.
Out of those accidents, 12 resulted in death and 207 in injuries.
According to ALEA, texting was one of the main causes of distracted driving last year and resulted in more than 3,000 fatal accidents across the nation and about 424,000 injuries in vehicle accidents.
"Not only is driving and texting irresponsible, but it is illegal," said Col. John E. Richardson, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, a division of ALEA. "People who break Alabama's texting law will be stopped and fined. It's simple: If you drive and text, you will pay."
Alabama's anti-texting law, became effective Aug. 1, 2012, and can cost violators $75 if they receive subsequent citations.
"Upon conviction for this violation, a driving record check will be done by the court," Jarrett explained. "If previous convictions for this offense are noted, then the fine will increase, according to the law."
The first fine is $25 and an additional $25 is added each time the citation is issued to an offender, up to $75 for the third and subsequent violations.
"Some people may say texting while driving is an epidemic. Well, we believe enforcing our state's texting law is part of the cure," Richardson said.
The campaign received approximately $8.4 million in grant funding from the Department of Transportation.
Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com