Chances are if you’re driving down the street you’re going to see a driver using some sort of handheld technology.
Georgians, in particular, seem to be suffering from a distracted-driving epidemic.
Georgians can't seem to put down their phones
The National Safety Council reported seeing a drastic spike in the number of deaths from car accidents in the state. From 2014 to 2016 the number of fatalities rose by a third in just two years citing distracted driving as a leading cause.
One Georgia bill is trying to make drivers think twice before they pick up their phones -- or pay the price.
Lawmakers consider expanding texting and driving law
Earlier this week lawmakers introduced legislation that would require drivers to go hands-free when operating a mobile device. An earlier proposal called for the complete outlaw of handheld devices but lawmakers rejected it due to its impracticality. Legislators were able to compromise with the new bill that would allow drivers to touch their phones to do things like answer calls but would require them to go hands-free if they’re found doing more than that.
Legislators believe that the proposed bill would be effective in reducing the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers by creating stricter punishments.
Bill would increase fines and jail time for distracted drivers
The bill wants to expand on Georgia’s current texting and driving laws and increase the penalties to encourage drivers to stay off their devices. If drivers are caught driving while distracted, they could face hundreds of dollars in fines. Subsequent offenders can pay even more.
In addition to monetary incentives, lawmakers also want to increase the jail time for distracted driving. Under the proposal drivers who are found guilty could be subjected to the same amount of jail time that a drunk driver would serve. Legislators argue that a distracted driver can be equally as dangerous as a drunk driver and that both convictions should accompany similar sentencing guidelines.
If the initiative passes it could encourage drivers to go completely hands-free. Even so, there are other ways that drivers can become distracted. Talking with passengers, eating and smoking can just as easily cause a collision as using a handheld device. By practicing safe driving habits and encouraging others to do the same you can do your part in keeping distracted drivers off Georgia roads.