Distracted Driving, Part 2: Will Georgia Go Hands-Free?

If Georgia lawmakers have their way, Georgia may become the next state to ban driving while talking on a cell phone. State Rep. Betty Price of Roswell is leading the push to make driving without a hands-free device a ticketable offense with a fine of $150. The goal is to decrease the alarming rate at which fatal car accidents have risen since cell phones became so widespread.

But the bill would not just be a ban on smartphones. Many electronic devices that could cause a distraction would be affected – cell phones, text messaging devices, tablets, PDAs and other forms of handheld computer, for example. CB radios, commercial two-way communications devices, navigation devices and in-vehicle security would not be affected by the ban.

How Big Is the Problem of Distracted Driving?

In 2010, distracted driving was a factor in nearly 10 percent of all fatal traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For nonfatal accidents that caused injury, 18 percent could be traced back to distracted driving.

The NHTSA claims that at any given daylight moment in the United States during 2011, an estimated 660,000 drivers were distracted. A whopping 31 percent of drivers from age 18 to 64 admitted to reading or sending emails and text messages while behind the wheel that year, a number that continues to rise.

In the average five seconds during which drivers tend to be distracted, at normal highway speeds (55mph) their vehicles can travel the length of a football field. That puts everyone in the driver’s path in grave danger. Put the phones down, Macon – your life may literally depend on it.



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