Earlier this month, Georgia legislators kicked off the first day of the General Assembly in somber fashion, holding a memorial service for five Georgia Southern University nursing students killed April 22 in a crash while they were driving from the campus to a Savannah hospital.
Gov. Nathan Deal was visibly upset as he addressed those who knew the students whose vehicle was crushed by a semi-truck. Witnesses said the truck did not even slow down before hitting the students’ vehicle, and reports say the trucker did, in fact, admit to texting while driving at the moment of the wreck.
Deal said that losing five young ladies who had devoted their lives to nursing was tragedy, and the state is making efforts to prevent similar tragedies from happening.
Is The Law Being Enforced?
Laws, of course, only work if they are enforced. If this collision was caused by a driver who was texting, state lawmakers may want to consider increasing the state penalty for texting and driving.
While 41 states, including Georgia, ban texting and driving, it’s unclear how often it is enforced. No statistics are available regarding how many traffic tickets have been issued by Georgia police for texting while driving. The fine for texting and driving in Georgia is $150, higher than the median state fine of $100.
California is the state with the lowest fine for texting and driving at just $20. Alaska is the toughest state, where a driver can be subject to up to $10,000 in fines. While Georgia may not need to follow Alaska’s lead, it’s clear that, in order to prevent these tragedies, Georgia needs to be as hard on motorists who text and drive as it is on those who drive drunk and speed.
Texting While Driving the No. 1 Cause of Teen Deaths
The statistics paint a grim picture of what is happening on the nation’s roads. Shocking new research completed by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York demonstrates that texting while driving has become the top cause of death among teenagers. About 3,000 teenagers die each year due to texting while driving and 2,800 died due to drunk driving. Another 300,000 teens were injured via texting. While we have come a long way in preventing drunk driving accidents (and of course, there is still more work to be done), distracted driving seems to be the dangerous behavior that must also be stopped.