State and Local Officials Take Varying Approaches to the “Distracted Driving” Issue

This morning, Speaker Ralston’s office released a statement announcing the members of a House Committee to look at Distracted Driving.

  • Rep. John Carson – Chair (R-Marietta)
  • Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire)
  • Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robins)
  • Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna)
  • Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon)
  • Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee)
  • Rep. Brian Prince (D-Augusta)
  • Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville)
  • Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville)
  • Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta)

The study committee formed out of House Resolution 282 and will look at changing state laws in order to help eliminate distracted driving.

However, just a short drive the Gold Dome, the Columbus Police Department formed their own “committee.” Yesterday morning, in an effort to eliminate distracted driving, the Columbus Police Department issued 96 citations in a 2 hour period for distracted driving. The fine could cost drivers up to $200. According the Ledger-Enquirer , there have been 14 fatalities in Muscogee County alone since the beginning of the year due to distracted driving. 

“A lot of those fatalities and accidents can be attributed to texting and driving or basically distracted driving and (no) seat belts,” Sgt. Chris Anderson said. “We decided to conduct a traffic enforcement detail focusing mainly on distracted driving and seat belt violations.”

According to Anderson, you don’t even have to be driving and texting. You can be stopped at a red light, looking at your phone, messing with your GPS, or even plugging your phone into a charger. Major J.D. Hawk, who is over the Patrol Unit, stated that one driver had their laptop up. Other violations warranting a citation included putting on make-up and reading a letter on the steering wheel.

“They have to be in direct control of the vehicle,” Anderson said. “The vehicle does not have to be in motion.”

CPD says the operation worked well and they intend to move to other parts of the city in the coming weeks.

“We are trying to do the right thing and raise public awareness to the dangers of being distracted while driving,” Anderson said.

The reactions by the citizens of Columbus ranged from total outrage to thanks for raising awareness of the issue. The Ledger’s Facebook page posted two different links to the article explaining the reason for the heightened law enforcement presence on the north end of the city. Combined, the posts were shared almost 1500 times.

We’ll have to wait for the next sting to see if it made the intended impact.

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