Distracted driving in Georgia and throughout the U.S. has been in the spotlight for several years, and most drivers are aware that cellphone use while driving creates a hazard. Many states have banned texting while driving, and Georgia is one of them. According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the state bans texting among all drivers, as well as cellphone use by teen drivers.
Distractions cause 80 percent of the accidents on American roads, and drivers involved in these crashes were all participating in distracting activities within three seconds of the accident. During a one-year period, researchers tracked the drivers of 100 vehicles. In that year, there were 241 drivers of these cars and together, they logged a total of two million miles. During the same period, these drivers engaged in more than 42,000 hours of distracting activities. This group had 82 accidents, along with 761 near-misses. There are another 8,296 “critical incidents.”
National studies have shown that driving distracted impairs response time, and the delay is comparable to the slower reaction time of an intoxicated driver. Cellphones are not the only culprits, but they are the biggest. Searching for a radio station, eating behind the wheel and grooming tasks such as shaving or applying makeup are also distractions. Drivers who do these things on a regular basis increase their chances of being involved in an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that distracted driving is any activity that draws attention away from the road. Texting causes the most concern because it takes the most time and attention. Driving 55 mph, a car covers 100 yards in about five seconds. Those five seconds represent the amount of time it takes to read or send a quick text, and that allows more than enough time and space for an accident to occur.
An estimated 660,000 people daily call or text while driving. In 2015, distracted driving played a role in nationwide accidents that claimed nearly 3,500 lives and injured nearly 400,000 others. Distracted teen drivers accounted for more of the fatal crashes than any other age group.
The problem is large enough to have both national and state governments turn their attention to it. Along with state laws restricting cellphone use while driving and education campaigns across all types of media, the federal government supports car manufacturers in the development of hands-free communications that are built into the dashboard.