Huntsville to add new amendments to texting-while-driving ordinance

person holding silver iphone 6 texting
The Huntsville City Council will amend its texting-while-driving ordinance. (Photo by Omar Al-Ghosson on Unsplash)

Texting is a widely used form of communication in the digital age, but as incidents of distracted driving and its relation to deadly accidents has prompted the Huntsville City Council to amend its ordinance regarding texting and driving to make our roads safer.

An amended ordinance introduced at the Aug. 24 Huntsville City Council meeting seeks to strengthen Huntsville’s existing law that restricts the use of wireless communication devices while driving.

A newly amended ordinance on texting and driving

Huntsville city council
The Huntsville City Council will vote in September on its amended ordinance on texting and driving. (City of Huntsville)

The amended ordinance would prohibit drivers from doing any of the following while operating a vehicle:

  • Using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, read or otherwise engage in any text-based communication;
  • Watching, recording or capturing a photo or video;
  • Engaging in voice-based communication while using a handheld wireless telecommunications device; or
  • Physically holding or otherwise supporting a wireless telecommunications device with any part of their body.

The updated ordinance, sponsored by District 2 Council Member David Little, would also enable law enforcement to treat a handheld wireless communication device violation as a primary offense.

“The City’s existing ordinance is a no-texting ordinance, and it only allows officers to treat a violation as a secondary offense. It is also very hard to enforce. This amended legislation gives law enforcement the ability to issue citations more easily for handheld wireless communication device violations and keep our roadways safer.”

David Little, Huntsville City Council

For David Little, this is personal

texting and driving crash
This is a Council Member David Little’s vehicle after he was involved in a distracted driving-related crash in 2008. (Huntsville City Council)

In December of 2008, Little and his family were involved in a distracted driving-related car accident that left the Council member critically injured in the hospital for two weeks and in a wheelchair for three months.

Little has since recovered, but uses his experience as a victim to educate others about the dangers of distracted driving.

Updating Huntsville’s no-texting ordinance to prohibit the use of handheld devices for any reason seems like a “no brainer,” Little said.

The City Council will vote on the amended ordinance during its next regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 14. If approved and adopted, the ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

The full ordinance can be viewed here.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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