Today’s fast paced world coupled with incredible technology allows most anyone to have access to a tremendous amount of information. If you are a smart phone user, then you have this information at your fingertips! Technology, information and access to that information are not bad things – if used properly. Oftentimes however, we get behind the wheel and immediately begin using our cell phones to talk, text, navigate, etc. and we have become a distracted driver. On July 1, 2018, Georgia officially became the 16th state to ban hand-held cell phone use. This means that during operation of a motor vehicle, even sitting at a red light, you cannot operate a cell phone. This is different than the previous laws that just banned texting. This law prohibits the operator of a vehicle from holding or supporting, with ANY part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, not just using it. Also, the law addresses texting, instant messages, internet data, and video recording. The law’s intent is to limit the driver’s usage of the cell phone to one button push. If you are doing more than that now, you are breaking the law. Why do we have to have this law? How big of a problem is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is a pretty simple concept. Any non-driving activity that takes the driver’s attention away from operating the vehicle is considered distracted driving. Eating and drinking, changing the radio station, updating your GPS destination and even talking to others are all considered distracted driving, but the biggest cause of distracted driving is the use of our cell phones. Many researchers believe, at any given time, there are over 660,000 people driving and using their cell phones. It is no wonder there are an estimated 1.6 million crashes annually where cell phones were involved. According to a University of Utah study, using a cell phone while driving delays the driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol level of .08%. That is not texting; it is just using the cell phone. When you text and drive, researchers show that drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. Traveling 55 mph, you would cover 120 yards during that short time without looking at the road.
Some states have adopted laws that take several important steps to address the problem, but these laws only do so much. Education and training can only go so far. Most people will acknowledge using your cell phone while operating a vehicle is dangerous, but over 70% of drivers do it anyway. Most drivers believe they are capable of multi-tasking, so using such a common device like a cell phone is not a big deal. The fact is, every day, 9 people are killed and over 1,100 people are injured as a result of distracted driving. The only solution to stop distracted driving is to eliminate the distraction. People have to stop focusing on everything else and worry about the road ahead of them.
For more information, please visit the links below:
Distracted Driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
Hands Free Georgia Law (HB673). Georgia Department of Driver Services, https://dds.georgia.gov/press-releases/2018-06-06/hands-free-georgia-law-hb673. May 25, 2018.