Fewer than 50 drivers a month have been convicted of texting and driving in the two years since a law in Georgia to ban texting went into effect. As of mid-September, 1,281 motorists had been convicted of the offense since the state law took effect on July 1, 2010. The number represents a small fraction of the 22,500 people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the same time frame.
It should be noted that the Georgia Department of Driver Services only tracks convictions, not the number of citations issued. Reportedly, some law enforcement officers say the law is difficult to enforce. State troopers have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking. It’s very easy for drivers to hide their phones when an officer is in sight.
A violation under the Georgia law results in a $150 fine. Enforcement varies greatly depending on the county, according to state records. For example, in Gwinnett County, 665 texting drivers were convicted – more than in all other Georgia counties combined. By comparison, 64 drivers were convicted in Cobb County. Fulton County had 43 convictions; Clayton County had 20 convictions; and DeKalb County had 16. Last year, there were 3,840 crashes attributed to cell phone use/distracted driving in Georgia, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Nine were fatal and 955 resulted in serious injuries.
Source: Montgomery Advertiser
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