Distracted Driving: Don’t Do It

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Alabama and Georgia Law Enforcement Join Forces

By Toni Stauffer

Alabama and Georgia Law Enforcement Agencies, along with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, held a joint press conference on Tuesday, April 9, at the Martin-Idle Hour Park Community Center. The agencies held the press conference to bring attention to April as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” and to highlight the Connect to Disconnect initiative that began on April 11 that encourages local law enforcement to conduct a special, four-hour distracted driving operation to reinforce their state’s distracted driving laws.

“We want to remind everybody, particularly those of us who living in a border state, that laws in Georgia may be a little different from the laws in Alabama, but the result is the same. We want people to remain safe,” Phenix City Chief of Police Ray Smith said. “While the laws in Georgia are stricter than Alabama make no mistake about it, you need to get used to that kind of law, because those kinds of laws are coming to Alabama as well. The key is to just stop driving distracted.”

The programs are an attempt to counter the alarmingly high increase of distracted driving crashes, which have risen to more than 400 percent in Georgia in the past ten years. Georgia had 25,215 distracted-related crashes in 2016, compared to 5,784 such crashes in 2006.

According to the Alabama Strategic Highway Safety, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver. While speeding is still the top contributing factor in fatal crashes in Alabama, we were ranked second in the nation in distracted driving. Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed 3,450 fatalities in Alabama, caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving isn’t just cell phone use while driving, which is now illegal in Georgia and Alabama–it can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as eating, music, and passengers. It’s anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. Invest in a hands-free device for your phone and remember to focus on the road. Your life and the lives of others depends on it.