Country Moving Toward More Hands-Free Laws in Wake of Georgia’s Success
GEORGIA – October 23, 2018 (dig-in.com) Georgia’s legislation combatting distracted driving debuted this summer and has so far seen success in reducing use of electronic devices on the road and traffic accidents. According to an online story from dig-in.com, the results of Georgia’s legislation are prompting other states to consider adoption of similar laws.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act went into effect at the beginning of July, and in drumming up the necessary votes for the law, state representatives estimated it would save 260 lives a year. “That’s a high school class,” said Rep. John Carson, one of the architects of the law.
So far, it looks like the law is making good on representatives’ promises. Federal accident tallies have not been officially released for 2018, but the company TrueMotion, which monitors mobile phone use for insurance companies, says the level of distracted driving in Georgia dropped by 19 percent in the first month of the law’s enforcement. The state also saw a 22 percent reduction in text messaging and cell phone app use during the law’s first month of enforcement. In turn, traffic fatalities have declined in Georgia by 14 percent.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Capt. Derick Durden of the Georgia State Patrol. “The law has teeth … and the compassion period is over; We’re going to be aggressively enforcing it now.”
Looking at Georgia’s success, several states are considering adoption of Hands-Free legislation. TrueMotion estimates the average driver in the U.S. still spends 17 percent of every car ride talking on a cell phone, using cell phone apps, or text messaging. Other cell phone monitoring companies say the problem is getting worse all the time. In response, anti-distracted driving groups are heavily pushing for Hands-Free laws in 14 states, and passage looks optimistic in about 10 of those.
“We’ve finally got all the kinks out,” said Jennifer Smith, executive director of Stopdistractions.org. “And the public is finally at the point where they’re fed up. They know this is a massive problem.”
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