Alabama bills cover speed trap rule, road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/23/2012

The Alabama Senate has signed off on an effort to give law enforcement in small towns the authority to ticket speeders on interstates. More bills on the move are intended to improve safety on roadways throughout the state.

Since 1996, Alabama law has prohibited police in cities with fewer than 19,000 residents from enforcing speed laws on interstate highways. The ban was attached to a bill boosting speeds to 70 mph.

The Senate voted 21-1 to advance a bill to the House that would allow police in affected towns to issue speeding tickets on interstate highways. The bill – SB8 – also would allow speed enforcement for all police departments on roads outside of city limits but within their jurisdictions.

Supporters say the law should be changed because there are not enough state troopers for speed enforcement on Alabama’s eight interstates. They also say putting more local officers on the interstates would result in safer travel.

Opponents say the ban is necessary to prevent small towns from creating speed traps on interstates and using ticket revenue to fill city coffers.

SB8 is awaiting consideration in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

Another Senate-approved bill would tweak the state’s “move over” law. It is a House floor vote away from moving to the governor’s desk.

Alabama law requires travelers to make way for vehicles, typically emergency personnel, during roadside stops. Violators face $25 fines.

The bill – SB80 – would add utility service vehicles to the protected list.

A separate bill halfway through the statehouse would prohibit all drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel. Currently, only the state’s youngest drivers are forbidden from engaging in the distracting activity.

HB2 would authorize police to pull drivers over solely for texting. Fines would start at $25 and two points would be added to licenses.

The House-approved bill is awaiting consideration before the full Senate.

One more bill would make it easier for older drivers with personal licenses to qualify for a discount on their insurance premiums.

Alabama law already allows drivers at least 55 years old to take an accident prevention course and qualify for a rate reduction.

Awaiting a House floor vote, HB193 would lower from eight hours to six hours the amount of classroom time required. Online instruction would also be permitted.

A Senate version – SB250 – is up for consideration on the Senate floor.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama, click here.

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