It’s no surprise that cell phone use and zoning out while driving are big causes of car accidents. A 2014 study showed that cell phones cause 26% of crashes in the United States. Of these, 5% were caused by texting, while talking on the phone caused the remainder of the accidents.
While these statistics prove that cell phones and driving don’t mix, not all states have been quick to adopt strict laws regarding phone use while traveling the roadways. Today, 46 states now have laws banning text messaging for all drivers. However, the laws regarding other types of cell phone use are still unclear in many states. Some states have laws strictly for minors or bus drivers. Others ban handheld phone use but allow hands-free use. Some states ban both.
In some states, the cell phone ban is a primary law, while in some states it’s a secondary law. A primary law means that a law enforcement official can cite you for cell phone use even if you’re not breaking any other traffic laws. In states that follow the secondary law, you can be cited for cell phone use only if you are pulled over for another offense, such as speeding.
Distracted Driving Laws in Georgia
When it comes to cell phone use, Georgia’s rules of the road are pretty clear and comprehensive. While the state does not have a full ban on cell phone usage, it clearly outlines who is allowed to use cell phones and for what purposes. Georgia has three primary laws in this regard. Novice drivers—those under the age of 18—are not allowed to use cell phones at all, whether they are handheld or hands-free. This same law applies to bus drivers, who often carry dozens of passengers and, therefore, must stay attentive at all times.
There are no restrictions on cell phone usage for adults who are not employed as bus drivers. However, all drivers must abide by the no texting law. Cell phone use—and the use of any sort of electronics, for that matter—is banned for novice drivers because they are immature and lack experience. They are also prone to distractions, so eliminating these devices helps eliminate distractions. This law went into effect in Georgia on July 1, 2010.
Texting is a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction that takes your eyes off the road. This can be very dangerous to not only you but other drivers as well. As such, Georgia is very strict with its text messaging ban, which was also enacted on July 1, 2010. This primary law can even be enforced while your vehicle is stopped, so if you must send a text go park your car first.
Georgia Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving is a serious issue, accounting for 80% of all car accidents. This includes not only cell phone usage, but fatigue, eating, reading, conversing with passengers, and other activities that take our eyes away from the road. A 2008 survey conducted by the AutoVantage motor club uncovered some statistics about driving habits in Georgia, particularly in Atlanta. Thirty-five percent of drivers in the area admitted to talking on the phone every day while driving. This ranked Atlanta as the least courteous city in the United States.
Georgia also has the third-highest rate of drivers who text while behind the wheel. Nearly 40% of drivers text while driving, with younger drivers more likely to engage in this activity. While some studies show that hands-free devices are safer than handheld ones, there is some evidence suggesting that distractions still take place. Even though the driver still has both hands on the wheel, the conversation itself is still a major distraction while driving.
Other Forms of Distracted Driving
Cell phone use is not the only cause of distractions while driving. There are several activities that are just as likely to cause an accident. Reading and applying makeup triple the risk of a crash, while being tired increases the risk four times. Reaching for an object makes an accident nine times more likely.
Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents for drivers of all ages. While banning cell phone use may seem unfair to older, more experienced drivers, this electronic device is best used for emergency situations only or when the user is not driving.