AAA to work with lawmakers in 2010 on several initiatives
At AAA Auto Club South, one of our driving principals is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety. Georgia’s General Assembly is set to convene on Jan. 11, at which time AAA will work to make our roads safer by advocating for passage of the following laws.
1. Ban text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
Texting and emailing are just two of the many possible distractions that divert drivers’ attention in addition to eating, talking with passengers, reading maps or the newspaper, looking at things outside the vehicle, listening to or adjusting the radio, and attending to in-vehicle technologies.
However, text messaging merits special attention due to the significant eyes-off-the-road time involved in reading, writing and sending messages—in addition to the cognitive distraction that is similar to what is involved in other distracted driving behaviors. The rapid proliferation of texting while driving makes it likely this risky behavior will grow if action is not taken.
2. Ban text messaging and cell phone use by drivers under age 18.
Representative Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) is sponsoring House Bill 23, which would prohibit the use of cell phones and text messaging devices by persons under 18 years of age while operating a motor vehicle.
New drivers face a big challenge behind the wheel; in fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that for every mile they drive, teens are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than other drivers. Additionally, crash risk increases with the number of passengers.
Banning the use of wireless communications devices while driving for teens is an important, but missing, component of Georgia’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws, which have been proven to save lives.
3. Include pickup trucks in the safety belt law.
State Senator Don Thomas, M.D. (R-Dalton) is sponsoring Senate Bill 5, which would eliminate the pickup truck exemption to the required use of safety belts. Georgia is the only state with a primary safety belt law that includes an exemption for pickup trucks, yet pickups represent nearly 21 percent of all vehicles registered in the state.
Preusser Research Group estimates that changing Georgia’s safety belt law to include pickup trucks would save 20 lives and prevent 411 serious injuries each year. In addition to the number of lives spared, the state would save at least $17.6 million over the next 10 years in medical costs alone if it would repeal the pickup truck exemption.
AAA encourages you to focus your full attention on the road while driving and model safe behavior when behind the wheel. Set a good example for your teens and others by always buckling up and avoiding distractions in your own driving.
For more information on traffic safety, as well as AAA’s work on behalf of the motoring public, visit AAA.com/SafetyMatters.