Georgia’s tough new distracted driving law went on the books July 1 although local enforcement (i.e., citations) didn’t start until Aug. 1 per decisions by the Rome Police and Floyd County Police departments.
A new survey out this week from AAA South of 1,171 of the auto club’s members — all licensed Georgia drivers taken between Aug. 6-14 – 75 percent of them had witnessed motorists holding or talking on their cell phones in the prior month (43 percent regularly, 32 percent fairly often).
Another question asked how many had seen drivers text messaging or emailing while driving in the same period. That number was 60 percent — 30 percent regularly and 30 percent fairly often.
Overall, 98 percent of those surveyed were aware of the new state law that bans the use of handheld phones, according to a recent AAA survey. They survey’s responses including 47 percent men and 53 percent woman.
The Georgia Hands-Free Law, which took effect on July 1, does allow drivers to talk on their phones without having it in their hands or supported by their body. Drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media or any other material on the internet, however, voice-to-text communication is legal.
“While hands-free applications allow a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, this may unintentionally provide motorists a false sense of security behind the wheel. Mental distractions – anything that takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving—are just as dangerous as taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel,” said Garrett Townsend, Georgia public affairs director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With more than 900 deaths on Georgia roadways roadways year to date, AAA urges motorists to limit distractions while driving, to ensure everyone gets to their destination safely.”
We also checked some of the accident statistics from the Rome Police Department for much of the first seven months of 2018. Notice how the low point of the year was also the month the new law went into effect. A sampling shows:
- February accidents: 43 percent were caused by those following too closely, which usually translates into someone using their phone and not paying attention to where they’re going.
- March: 52 percent of 258 accidents.
- April: 44 percent of 207 accidents.
- June: 42 percent of 187 accidents.
- July: 36 percent of 161 accidents.