Georgia recently took a major step in eliminating distracted driving by prohibiting drivers’ use of cellphones and other mobile devices. The new distracted driving law, which went into effect July 1st, replaces a number of 2010 statutes that treated teens and adults differently. They prohibited anyone 18 and older from texting while driving and banned any driver under 18 from using an electronic device at all.
While many believe the new distracted driving law is an improvement over the old one, other’s aren’t satisfied.
Georgia’s new distracted driving law treats teenagers and adults alike–it prohibits them from holding their phones while driving. But teens can now use their phones for certain purposes if they’re using hands-free technology.
Natalie Bacho, who lobbied for the new law, had a daughter who died in a 2012 crash after an 18-year-old driver who was using a cellphone ran a red light. Bacho believes young people are especially vulnerable to the temptation of electronic devices.
Research suggests that Bacho is correct. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenagers have the highest car crash rate of any group in the country. The study also found that distracting behavior was involved in 59% of teen accidents examined between 2007 and 2015.
State Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, who sponsored the new Georgia law, said eliminating the distinction between teen and adult drivers makes the distracted driving law easier to enforce. That’s because police have a difficult time distinguishing between an 18-year-old driver and one who is underage.
However, Carson said he may revisit the teenager issue with new legislation in 2019.
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