In recognition of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, Georgia is participating in the federal government’s campaign to urge people to put away their phones while they are driving.
Law enforcement agencies are stepping up patrols to catch distracted drivers before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation is running TV, radio and digital advertisements with the slogan “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Georgia has laws to address distracted driving, a frequent cause of car accidents. Distracted-driving crashes killed more than 3,300 people and injured 421,000 across the country in 2012, according to the federal transportation officials.
The state of Georgia does not prohibit drivers from using handheld mobile phones, but texting is illegal and a primary offense. That means a driver can be ticketed for texting even if no other traffic law has been broken.
In Georgia, overall traffic fatalities dropped in 2013 for the 8th consecutive year, the state Department of Transportation said. However, transportation officials acknowledge that texting by drivers remains a serious problem.
According to the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety, Georgia is targeting anti-texting ads to women between the ages of 18 and 34. Some research suggests that women admit to texting while driving more frequently than men do. However, those numbers are not necessarily reliable. Other studies have found that male drivers text more than female drivers out of a false sense that they can handle both tasks safely.
In California and Delaware, intense crackdowns on distracted driving, accompanied by media ads, appeared to deter texting and the use of handheld phones by all drivers. The national ad campaign does not specifically target any one demographic. Distracted driving is not OK, no matter who you are.
If you are like many people and feel compulsively tied to your phone, it’s time to think of ways to force yourself to remove the temptation to use your phone while driving.
- Place the phone out of reach while you’re driving.
- Turn down the ringer so you can’t hear it and won’t feel the urge to answer immediately.
- Ask a passenger to pick up your calls or send texts if you are expecting something important.
Download one of many apps that automatically limit what you can do with your phone while driving. Some can detect how fast you are driving and give a customized message to callers that you are in the car and will return their calls when it is safe to do so.