Police Report: Young Georgia Drivers Still Texting Behind the Wheel
The number of drivers who text behind the wheel is alarming and should frighten all road users. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, over 37 percent of all drivers have sent or received text messages. A recent national study conducted by AT&T suggests these figures to be even higher, finding that over 60 percent of drivers text while driving. Many drivers feel that they can competently text and drive and engage in the dangerous practice, even though it is illegal.
Recently, Georgia State Patrol Corporal Christopher Hinkle agreed to an interview on "A Closer Look." He stated that he feels texting and driving is still a major problem among young drivers because they have grown up constantly talking and texting on the phone. Hinkle reports that because Georgia has not banned talking and calling on cell phones while driving, it can be difficult to catch people texting. In fact, he has only issued nine or ten citations total for texting while driving since 2010.
Teen Drivers Continue to Text Despite Recognized Dangers
The observations of the Georgia State Patrol seem to be consistent with national data as to the high rate of texting while driving among teenagers. While a number of anti-texting while driving campaigns have brought national public awareness to the problem, teenagers seem slow to respond and take action.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (link downloads PDF report) mounted videos to capture teen drivers. In analyzing the 1,700 videos of teens just prior to crashes, it found that distractions were a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate to serious crashes. This is four times the rate of many official estimates that use police reports.
Research demonstrates that typing text messages reduces a driver's ability to focus on the roadway the roadway, respond appropriately to traffic events and keep his or her vehicle within the lane.
Help Keep Your Teenager Safe through Education
Parents can have a positive impact on preventing teenagers from texting while driving. Make sure your teen driver understands that using a cell phone while driving is usually only acceptable in the event of an emergency, and even then he or she must pull over to a safe place before answering. Be sure to emphasize that texting while driving is never okay and is far more dangerous than talking on the cell phone. Provide your teen with simple alternatives to texting while driving, including completing any calls or texts before starting the car and safely pulling over for urgent calls. Proper parental guidance can reduce the rate of teen texting and driving and save lives.
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