Texting and driving is not only dangerous, but in the state of Georgia, it's illegal. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 10, 2011)
News 12 at This Morning / Monday, Oct. 10, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Texts, emails, GPS -- with new cell phone technology, comes new distractions inside your car.
Georgia is one state where the lawmakers are trying to keep up with that technology.
"Texting and Facebook and Twitter on mobile devices, on smartphones, has become more and more popular over the past few years," said Trooper First Class Ben Rollins. "Five years ago we didn't have to worry about this ... but with advances in technology it's becoming more and more of a problem."
Rollins, of the Georgia State Patrol, says they issue tickets for texting and driving nearly every day.
"We've seen several fatalities due to texting and driving, some in this area and as well throughout the state," he said.
A new study from the Texas Transportation Institute shows drivers distracted with cell phones are 11 times more likely to miss flashing lights on the road. And using a cell phone doubled and sometimes tripled their reaction time to road hazards.
The study shows that even just picking up your phone to read a text or email while you're driving can be just as distracting as actually trying to compose one.
"It's not the fact that you're sending it. It's the fact that you're reading it and taking your eyes off of the roadway," Rollins said. "If you're not looking at where you're going, you don't know where you're going."
Research shows drivers who are texting are:
Rollins remembers one incident in particular where a teenager died instantly after a bad accident.
"He was dead in the car and we went through his cell phone and up until probably about three minutes before the call was received, two to three minutes, it was constant text messages," he said.
In Georgia, drivers 18 and older can only use phone to make calls, but younger drivers cannot use their phone while driving at all. Basically any application that's connected to the Internet on your phone, including GPS, is illegal to use while driving. There is not a similar law in South Carolina, but state lawmakers have been working on legislation targeting texting and driving.
Troopers suggest putting your phone in your glove compartment or somewhere out of reach when you get in your car. If you hear it go off and must respond, pull over safely first.