Data shows lax enforcement of Georgia texting while driving law
Texting while driving is against the law in Georgia. However, according to data published recently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the prohibition may not be doing much to keep motorists safe. This is because law enforcement officials rarely punish drivers for violating the anti-texting law.
The law went into effect on July 1, 2010. Since then, data from the Department of Driver Services shows that only 1,281 drivers have been convicted of texting while driving – an average of less than 50 per month. The State Patrol says that its troopers only cite an average of 11 drivers each month. By comparison, approximately 22,500 people have been convicted of drunk driving during the same time frame.
Gwinnett County has been the only jurisdiction to buck the trend. Since the law was passed, it has convicted 665 people for texting while driving, more than the combined total of all other counties.
Officers say that a lot of the trouble comes from the fact that it is hard to catch drivers in the act of texting. Since most drivers know that texting while driving is illegal, they hide their phones out of view and are careful not to be seen texting when a police officer is present. Others are able to escape liability by claiming that they were merely dialing a phone number, since the law does not prohibit talking on a cellphone while driving.
Many safety advocates also claim that the law is not strict enough to dissuade drivers from texting. A conviction for texting while driving will result in just a $150 fine and one point on the offender’s driving record.
The risks of distracted driving
It is disappointing that the law has not been more effective, considering just how dangerous texting while driving is.
According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to cause a car accident. Much of the risk come from the fact that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for so long that they fail to notice potential hazards. At highway speeds, sending or reviewing a text message is the equivalent of driving blindfolded down the length of an entire football field!
Distracted driving is a huge problem, both in Georgia and throughout the entire country. No one deserves to be injured or killed simply because another motorist couldn’t bother to take their hands off their cellphone for long enough to finish their trip.
When a car accident is caused by distracted driving or another form of driver negligence, injured victims have a right to seek compensation for losses including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, talk to an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and help you understand your options.