In an effort to reduce traffic accidents, Georgia legislators passed a law cracking down on distracted driving in 2010. Under the law, it is illegal to “write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data” while operating a motor vehicle on a public Georgia roadway. Officers have already given thousands of citations to drivers that were on their cell phones in various sting operations across the state.
While the law can no doubt help make Georgia roadways safer, some feel it goes too far. In particular, the prohibition on texting applies to anyone operating a motor vehicle rather than to anyone driving a motor vehicle. This distinction becomes significant when a person is in the driver’s seat of a running car that is stopped or parked. As written, the law permits officers to cite drivers that text when they are stopped at traffic lights, and possibly even while they are completely parked on the side of the road, because the drivers would still be “operating” the vehicle.
Proposed Legislation Could Limit the Prohibition Against Texting to Only Apply When Vehicles are Moving
It has been reported that lawmaker John Pezold (R) has a plan to introduce legislation that would limit the anti-texting law to apply only when a vehicle is moving. After all, if a vehicle is not moving, what does it matter if a driver is distracted? They could fail to accelerate right away when a light turns green, which could be a traffic annoyance, but that isn’t likely to be a major safety concern.
But there are some staunch opponents to Pezold’s proposal. They argue that even when a vehicle is stopped, it is important for drivers to maintain awareness of their surroundings. Moreover, that the distraction presented by texting or emailing lasts far longer than the mere moment that a person spends reading or typing out their message. There are some studies that back this idea up, with one 2015 study concluding that “texting at the light may decrease so-called ‘situational awareness’ and lead to driving errors even after the device is put down.”
Lawmakers will have to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of permitting drivers to text, email, and use the Internet while they are stopped at lights or in traffic. While it is a convenient freedom to have – and while it is certainly a safer practice than doing those things while on the move – there are still risks that need to be considered.
Regardless of how the law evolves, Georgia drivers should always try to pay attention when behind the wheel and avoid distractions whenever possible. And, unless and until the law changes, Georgia drivers should remember that it is illegal to text, email, or use the Internet on their phones even when they are stopped at a light.
For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby
The Williams Elleby personal injury legal team encourages all Georgia drivers to be cautious and attentive when behind the wheel. When accidents do occur, Williams Elleby, helps traffic accident victims throughout the State of Georgia get the compensation they deserve. If you would like more information about this issue or would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, at 833-LEGALGA today.