Texting ban passes in Alabama, remains controversial in Mississippi
Alabama recently became the latest state to enact legislation prohibiting drivers from engaging in text based messaging while behind the wheel. In the neighboring state of Mississippi, however, texting while driving is still legal in most cases, and, though the practice has already become a topic for discussion in state courtrooms, the idea of a bill outright banning it is still the subject of controversy among state legislators. Though state law in Mississippi currently bans motorists with only a learner’s permit and school bus drivers from sending or reading text messages while behind the wheel, a farther reaching ban is still being debated. Several legislators tried unsuccessfully to introduce legislation prohibiting drivers from using handheld communication devices while behind the wheel in the most recent legislative session. Many of those opposed to such a bill argue that it is impossible for law officers to enforce effectively. One such legislator, though he readily conceded that texting while driving is an unwise decision made by motorists, expressed doubts that a law could actually cause the widespread practice to be discontinued by the general public. A statement issued by a representative from the Mississippi Highway Patrol said the law enforcement agency, as well as the state’s Department of Public Safety as a whole, has no official stance on the desirability or feasibility on legislation banning motorists from texting and driving. The Department of Public Safety’s focus is on educating drivers about the dangers of distracting habits behind the wheel rather than promote legal prohibitions.