According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. Teen drivers, ages 15-19, were the largest group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

What is considered distracted driving? According to NHTSA, distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone (including social media), eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, and your entertainment or navigation system. Basically, “anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving, states NHTSA.” Of all of these distractions, texting while driving is the most alarming.

NHTSA’s efforts on distracted driving is its partnership with the States and local police. Each State determines laws affecting distracted driving, but NHTSA provides Federal investments in the locally driven strategies that address the States’ specific needs. One of the highlights of this relationship comes during April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which pairs a national advertising campaign with a law enforcement crackdown called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Click on the following link to read more about NHTSA’s Distracted Driving campaign, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

In Georgia, it is against the law to text, email, and use the internet on any wireless device while driving, including while at stop signs and stop lights. This includes writing, sending, or reading text based communication. All drivers under 18 with a Class C license are prohibited from all cell phone uses (handheld and hands free).  This includes phone calls, text messages, instant messages, email or Internet data. Drivers over 18 can make phone calls, but are prohibited from texting, emailing or using the internet on any wireless device.

Drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle on any public road or highway in Georgia, cannot hold a wireless device when making phone calls; use a wireless device that requires more than a single button to initiate or terminate a call; or reach for a wireless device that requires the driver to change his/her seated driving position that is properly restrained by a safety belt.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the number of distracted driving crashes in Georgia has risen to more than 400 percent in the last decade. There were over 25,200 crashes in Georgia last year where inattentiveness, cell phone usage, or distracted driving was listed as the contributing factor.

To help reduce these numbers, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is partnering with the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance Division, and its 16 Regional Traffic Enforcement Networks for increased enforcement of Georgia’s distracted driving law.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has also produced its own distracted driving prevention message that is airing on television stations across the state, and a radio campaign that is also being distributed across Georgia. For more information about this GOHS campaign called Heads UP Georgia, please click on the following link HeadsUPGeorgia.