Riders Against Texting

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CULLMAN – Technology today is a remarkable thing. We can make a call, send an email or take a photograph at any time and in any place. They have brought people closer, and made life easier in so many ways. There is, however, another side to this coin, a side where people’s lives are shattered and lives are lost due to distracted driving.


It is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent. Teens and adults alike are looking down at their phones, when they should be looking up at the road. Fortunately, some Alabamians are trying to do something to make our highways safer. Riders Against Texting is a group of concerned citizens coming together to help push our state to amend the current laws in place, and become a hands free state.


“We came up with the Riders Against Texting, or R.A.T. because of recent accidents and happenings with texting and driving,” Marty Love, a representative from the R.A.T group said. “And we decided on the word riders because that covers not only the one who is driving the bike, but it covers the passenger.”


The movement the group is trying to spread across the state is one of safety and reform.


“Anybody who lives in the state of Alabama that believes that the law as it stands, which is a $25 citation, is ineffective, inappropriate and a joke,” said Love. “We want to change the laws in place to stiffen the penalties, make penalties harsher and to make Alabama a hands-free state.”


States like Illinois, Nevada, California, New York and more have already made the move to be a hands-free state. More states are voting on bills to make the same change. Love and his fellow group members hope to raise awareness and see the currents laws changed to do the same. Sherriff-elect Matt Gentry, and local Senator Paul Bussman, have both shown their support on the issue.


“We have met with our Senator Paul Bussman,” said Love. “And he is behind this 100 percent. Matt Gentry is also behind this, and even identifying that the police officers would also be required to be hands-free which he thought was appropriate. It was something that he was willing to look into when he takes office.”


“This is a law that is very difficult to enforce,” Love stated. “First of all the citation is only $25 for the first offense. Also, under the current laws, if a police officer sees someone texting and driving they have to subpoena their phone records to prove that they were texting.”


When you add up the invasion of privacy for a simple traffic citation, the difficulty of proving anything and the man hours it took to make the ticket stick, it is a very ineffective deterrence. This is why R.A.T believes that making the move to a hands-free state will be the most cost efficient and easiest way to enforce this law.


“We are getting petitions signed,” Love said. “We are having petitions signed online and on paper. People are taking them to work and getting people to sign petitions that say we as Alabamians are done, and we want safer roads, and we want a hands-free state. If people want to talk and text it will have to be through a hands-free device.”


While the issue seems like a distant problem to many, it only takes one moment of someone looking at their phone instead of the road to crush two families forever. It will devastate not only the family of the person who is killed, but the family of the person who caused the needless death of a neighbor. Buying and wearing a hands-free device is a small price to pay for the safety of people.


For more information on the Riders Against Texting, visit them on Facebook, look up R.A.T Riders Against Texting and like their page.