TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Alex Rudick’s mission to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving has taken her and a bill she helped write to the Alabama House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, HB611 passed through the Alabama House Committee and will be voted on the House floor Thursday. The bill makes different forms of hands-free driving– such as texting, eating, changing the radio and other activities– illegal while not stopped at a red light.
The idea for the bill came from the death of Rudick’s cousin, Jessica Butler, who was killed in a car accident May 2017. Following Butler’s death, 17-year-old Rudick wanted to get the word out about the dangers of distracted driving. This became her National Gold Award Project idea — the key to earning the highest award in the Girl Scouts. Only 10 Girl Scouts receive the honor each year.
Rudick wanted to drill home that distracted driving is more than just texting.
“It’s a common sense bill,” Rudick said. “If you’re obviously distracted, you shouldn’t be doing it.”
It was that sort of message that quickly got the attention of Karen Peterlin, CEO of the North Central Alabama Girl Scouts.
“[Peterlin] was like, why don’t you change the law? And I was like okay, I will!” Rudick said.
While pursuing her Gold Award, Rudick made her message against distracted driving heard, reaching out to advocacy groups like Stopdistractions.org.
“She’s giving me great ideas,” said Jennifer Smith, CEO of Stopdistractions.org said. “She told me ideas of what she was doing at the capital and I was like, oh you’re good.”
Smith and her organization have worked to pass hands-free laws in other states, such as Georgia. She said Rudick’s story will help pass a similar law in Alabama.
“We knew we would get it out of the house, we got it to the Senate floor,” Smith said. “During the Senate committee, that’s when you come testify, so that’s when Alex was going to come and share her story.”
Smith said Rudick’s effort and confidence will hopefully be what a person needs to hear in order to make the right move.
“She has a platform where more people will hear her story,” she said. “Maybe more people can be reached, think twice before they reach for snapchat and think ‘oh no – I remember hearing Jessica’s story.’”
Rudick said she’s looking forward to heading to the Senate floor to advocate for the hands-free law.
“It’s not that I’m not nervous, because this project is about Jessica,” she said. “And when you put your heart into something, nothing is going to stop you.”
You can find Rudick’s National Gold Award Project videos here.