Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Georgia?
Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2017
Cell phones have given society many gifts in the forms of enhanced communication, multitasking, and getting more accomplished on the go. Yet they have had a terrible impact in an area that affects everyone – cell phone-related car accidents. If a person is reading, writing, or sending a text message, he or she cannot focus on the driving task. During the average day, approximately 660,000 drivers use their cell phones behind the wheel. This frightening statistic exposes the major potential for cell phone-related crashes.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
There are three main forms of distraction while driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Text messaging results in all three types of distraction at once. Texting takes your eyes, hands, and mind off of the driving task – exposing you to a high risk of causing an accident. Many drivers today mistakenly believe they can successfully multitask, reading texts and driving safely. Yet a study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that at 55 miles per hour, reading the average text is the equivalent of driving across a football field blindfolded.
On top of the visual distraction texting presents, it also requires taking your hands off of the wheel – unless the driver is using a hands-free device. Using even one hand to type out a text message puts you at risk of causing an accident. Your reflexes will not be fast enough to maneuver away from other vehicles or pedestrians in time to prevent a collision. Safe driving requires both hands on the wheel at all times.
Many drivers “solve the problem” of texting and driving by using a hands-free system that reads text messages out loud and will send your own messages back using talk-to- text systems. Yet this form of texting and driving is still unsafe, since it poses a risk of cognitive distraction. Your mind might be on what you’re hearing or saying instead of the roadway. A conversation that makes you emotional puts you at even further risk of cognitive distraction while driving, as anger or stress for example, can impact judgment and focus.
Texting and Driving Laws in Georgia
Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has led campaigns against cell phone use while driving, holding two national summits, banning cell phone use for commercial drivers, and encouraging states to adopt stringent laws. Georgia is no exception. In Georgia, the current texting and driving rules are as follows:
- It is illegal to engage in any action that distracts the driver from the task at hand, including texting on a cell phone or other device while driving.
- Police can convict a driver of texting and driving if he/she uses a mobile telephone to “write, send, or read text-based messages.” This includes texts, emails, and internet data.
- Cell phone and texting laws in Georgia are primary, meaning police officers need no other reason to pull a driver over and cite a violation.
- Drivers over the age of 18 may make or receive phone calls via mobile device while driving, if he or she can do so without compromising the safe operation of the vehicle.
- The law prohibits all cell phone use for drivers under the age of 18, including handheld and hands-free use. The same rule applies to bus drivers.
- Drivers who are fully parked or responding to emergencies are exempt from the state’s cell phone laws.
Texting and driving in Georgia can result in a $150 fine, as well as one point on your driving record. It can also lead to at-fault accidents, liability, and even punitive damages for gross negligence. Protect yourself and those around you on the roadway by putting your phone away while behind the wheel.