HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama leaders are seeking harsher laws for distracted driving. A bill has been introduced in the legislature to change Alabama’s leniency toward distracted driving.

In Alabama, it’s legal to have your phone in your hand while driving. The only illegal part is texting and driving.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is pushing for harsher laws that could change driving habits alongside a new bill that would make it illegal to drive while holding your phone.

“It is time in Alabama to have a hands-free bill we all see the need for it all you have to do is look around when you’re driving,” said Allison Green with ALDOT.

Representative Randy Wood originated the bill saying the requirement would make it so that anytime you use your phone, it has to be hands-free.

“If you gotta talk to somebody pull over on the side of the road and make that call do whatever you have to do get out of the traffic,” said Rep. Wood. “Because if you have an accident and hurt someone or kill someone or you even lose your life, it’s too late. It’s already done and we’ve got to do what it does take to overcome this.”

ALDOT says crews are seeing an increase in distracted driving and phone use. In 2021, at least 49 fatalities were confirmed to be related to distracted driving in Alabama. They say those numbers are growing. For drivers who text and drive, they are even more likely to be in a crash

“People who text and drive specifically are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. I don’t think any of us want to be injured killed or even have our vehicles damaged in a crash,” said Green.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) has advice on how drivers can break the habit.

“That’s why it’s important that we are urging people, if you have to send or read text, you have to manipulate your phone where its gonna divert your attention from the roadway. Pull off before you choose to do so unless you have an emergency phone call,” explained ALEA Trooper Brandon Bailey.

Both Georgia and Tennessee currently have hands-free laws in place. If Alabama drivers cross state lines, they should be aware that phones in hand while driving is against other states’ laws.