I saw in this morning’s AJC an article on the front page about distracted driving. Unfortunately, the article reports that distracted driving has gone up, that roadway deaths on Georgia roads have increased by a third and that distracted driving may very well be to blame for that increase. Online today I also read of the tragic death of a Roswell High School student from a car wreck with another teenager Saturday night. We do not yet know what caused this tragic accident.
As the mother of a 20 year old college student and a 17 year old senior in high school, both of whom drive on a regular basis, this is the sort of news that leads to a lot of sleepless nights. I know you parents out there can sympathize. The question is what can we do to reduce the number of such highway deaths? Has distracted driving made a difference?
Most of us may think of “distracted driving” being solely texting while driving (something I labeled “TWD” years ago). Texting While Driving is now illegal in Georgia (and has been since 2010) and in 45 states total. 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. That means simply making telephone calls on your mobile phone while driving is illegal, much less texting while driving. But what is the distinction between texting while driving and calling while driving? Is there one? Can’t punching in someone’s cell phone number while driving be just as distracting as texting a message while driving? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes – with 3,328 people killed – and crashes resulting in an injury – with 421,000 people wounded.