Georgia passed laws two years ago banning texting while driving for any age while operating a motor vehicle and using handheld devices that could possibly impair your judgment during driving. Since two years ago, only around 1,300 people have been issued citations for texting and driving in the state of Georgia, an extremely low number compared to the thousands that are caught while driving under the influence of drugs, or driving without seat belts.
According to the CDC, in 2010, before the texting while driving law was enforced, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries largely in part due to impaired driving. Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash per mile driven by the teen. That doesn’t stop former UWG student Yuneka Williams from indulging in the habit, even though she knows the consequences. “Unfortunately I still text and drive,” said Williams.
Georgia’s cell phone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws, meaning that a police officer can pull you over without having to witness another offense, such as running a stop sign or speeding. Therefore, if an officer witnesses you texting and driving he can immediately pull you over and issue a citation. Texting offenders are subject to a $150 fine and one point against their driving record versus the hefty fines that someone pays for speeding or driving under the influence. According to a recent article published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, some officers don’t see the urgency in pulling over someone while they are texting stating that “people are looking for them now” since the law has been passed making it harder for officers to see individuals actually committing the crime.
From August of 2010 to September 2012, only 1,281 citations have been issued in the state of Georgia, with only 36 citations being issued within the first year of the law passing; the leading county with citations being Gwinnett County with over 665 citations, the lowest being DeKalb County with 16.
“I think that it’s a good law. Too many people have been killed and injured from a simple text,” said current UWG student Tambria Banks who agrees with and encourages the law. “I try not to text and drive, however I have never been caught.”
Sabrina Scrivens, mother of two and full time worker sees texting while driving as irresponsible and encourages people to correct these habits. “I do not text and drive,” said Scrivens. “It is a selfish act that changes people’s lives. I grew up when you had to wait and call people when you got home.”
Fewer than 50 people a month are averaged to be given citations for texting while driving in the future.
Mandi Sorohan, a mother whose son was killed during a car accident in which he was texting while driving, believes that Georgia police officers should be the ones to enforce the law more. “I feel like they should at least pull people over and remind them,” Sorohan said. “They don’t even have to give a ticket, just let people know they are watching.”