Villa Rica is preparing to make distracted driving illegal—again. The city passed an ordinance earlier this year making it illegal to use a cell phone at all while driving, but the mayor later vetoed the law. Now, the city council is again prepared to vote on a distracted driving law, but this one will encompass all forms of distraction, and not just cell phone use.
The council will consider a law that allows police officers to issue a citation to a driver who is doing anything that would distract from paying attention to the road. Illegal activity would include using hand held devices to send and receive text messages or emails, but would also entail eating, performing acts of personal hygiene or grooming, or interacting with pets, passengers, or unsecured items in a way that takes a driver’s attention off of the road.
In order to avoid a ticket for distracted driving, drivers would have to have at least one hand free of any objects and being used entirely to grip the steering wheel.
Some electronic devices would not be targets of the new law, however. Drivers would still be able to use GPS devices that are affixed to the vehicle, and would also be permitted to use electronic devices in the car to alert emergency personnel to a car accident, crime, or other dangerous situation.
Villa Rica would have a graduated system of fines for drivers who broke the law. Drivers would first receive a warning for driving under distracted conditions, and if they continued to violate the ordinance, would have to pay increased fines.
This sounds like a very strict law, but it turns out Georgia already has a law against distracted driving; it is an officer’s discretion to stop a motorist for driving unsafely due to distractions in the vehicle. With the distracted driving epidemic we have today, it is good to see cities establishing standards for safe driving.
Texting while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, and any activity that takes a driver’s attention from the road is extremely risky. I hope this new ordinance will raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, and will encourage more people to keep stay focused on the road when they’re behind the wheel.
Ty Wilson is an Atlanta accident attorney. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to read articles, watch videos and to order his FREE books about Georgia personal injury claims, Georgia workers compensation and Georgia automobile insurance information.
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