HOSA E-magazine Spring 2015 - page 8

8
ALABAMA
Legislation Bans Distracted Driving
By Ed Enoch
Staff Writer
The bill to ban distracted driving that was introduced in the Alabama Legislature
this year began as a project by three Pickens County teens last year, but has
evolved into a campaign to change the driving habits of motorists statewide.
The cause that began as a senior-year project for the three Gordo High School graduates
competing at the state conference for HOSA-Future Health Professionals was inspired by personal
experience.
One of the three,
Morgan Sanders
, now in her first year at Shelton State Community College, was
injured as a passenger in an accident caused by distracted driving during her junior year of high
school.
“The last thing I remember was (the driver) was fiddling with her phone. We came to a stop sign, but
she didn’t make a complete stop. I remember the 18-wheeler coming at us, and it t-boned us on my
side,” Sanders said.
Sanders suffered a broken pelvis and fractured tail bone and had to undergo physical therapy after
being discharged from the hospital.
“Taking that first step was really bad. I almost passed out I was in so much pain,” Sanders said.
Gordo classmate Maria Manning recalled the shock of almost losing her friend.
“It was just really gut-wrenching. It could have been prevented. If the driver had been paying
attention, none of this would have happened,” Manning said.
Manning, Sanders and Cassidy Hardy decided to focus on distracted driving as a topic for a health
education project as they considered options for the 2014 state HOSA competition.
“Honestly, when we started, when we decided on the topics, we just wanted to do really well at state
competitions,” Sanders said. “But when we started working on it, we decided we wanted to make a
difference.”
A bill inspired by the three students’ efforts is being sponsored by Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport. It
would ban motorists from driving while reading, writing, grooming, interacting with pets or unsecured
cargo, using wireless telecommunications devices or any other activity that “prevents a driver from
devoting the necessary attention to driving.”
“It’s basically anything that takes our attention off operating the vehicle,” said Manning, a freshman
at the University of Alabama.
The bill is patterned off the state law passed in 2012 prohibiting texting while driving. Harper said
he believes the new bill would provide a more enforceable law than the texting ban and make state
roads safer.
Law enforcement in the state would be able to treat violations as the primary reason for issuing a
citation, according to the bill.
Former Gordo HOSA Members’
Project Has Become State Bill
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