Georgia Law Enforcement Stepping Up Efforts to Reduce Texting & Driving
The high number of traffic accidents caused by drivers who are text messaging on cell phones and other mobile communication devices has been well documented. Some experts contend that in as many as 4 in every 5 accidents, the at-fault driver was not paying attention during the three second interval immediately prior to the crash. While Georgia like many states has made the practice of texting while driving illegal, many drivers disregard the prohibition on text messaging while operating a motor vehicle because the law banning texting behind the wheel is difficult to enforce.
Law enforcement officials indicate that they anticipate the number of citations for texting and driving to increase dramatically because many drivers have developed a false sense of security about the risk of receiving a ticket for text messaging while driving. Law enforcement authorities indicate that they are seeing more drivers that hold their phone next to the steering wheel in plain site or continuously look down at the screen of the phone making it obvious that they are texting.
In addition to drivers being less discrete, law enforcement authorities have become more sophisticated at identifying drivers who are sending, reading and composing text messages. Some law enforcement officers park on overpasses where they can see down into the passenger compartment of approaching vehicles to nab drivers who are text messaging. Another law enforcement practice being used to catch offending drivers is to locate unmarked SUVs in areas known to have a high volume of distracted drivers.
Because the police officers sit higher up off the ground, it is easier to see down into the passenger compartment area of vehicles and determine if a driver is texting and driving. The officers will look for vehicles that exhibit potential signs of being operated by a texting driver, such as swerving within a lane, drifting into the adjacent lane, failing to drive when a light changes to green or driving at an abnormally slow rate of speed.
While no one likes traffic citations, the general ineffectiveness of anti-texting laws at deterring distracted drivers suggests that more strenuous enforcement may be necessary so that the cost of texting and driving will be too high for drivers to take the risk. Because the fine associated with this distracted driving offense is relatively low, it is unclear whether an increase in the number of citations issued will have much of an impact. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if an increased number of tickets for text messaging reduces the number of distracted driving accidents in Atlanta and the surrounding areas of Georgia.
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