In March, an all-teen board appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal recommended major changes to teen driver education strategies and asked for harsher penalties for teens who break Georgia’s law banning motorists from sending text messages and using smart phones while on the road.
Members of the Governor’s Commission on Teen Driving have also asked lawmakers to ban handheld phone use for all Georgia drivers.
The number of teen driving deaths, however, indicate that younger drivers may be getting the message more effectively than their adult driving counterparts.
A report released earlier this year shows that while motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, younger drivers in Georgia are experiencing fewer fatal accidents. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, 16 and 17 year-old drivers in Georgia between January and June of 2012, which is down from six deaths during the first half of 2011.
Texting-related fatalities remains high — too high according to adults who know firsthand.
“Based on the latest data, 18 teens die everyday nationwide from reckless driving. The number one killer is traffic accidents and the big contribution to that is alcohol and texting while driving,” said Crawford Finley, Baldwin High School SADD advisor in a February interview.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, an hand-held device such as a GPS or an iPod can also increase the risk of a crash by 3 times.
“Our current ban on texting while driving is a step in the right direction, but it is inadequate to protect people from all drivers distracted by handheld devices,” said Gov. Nathan Deal in a press release on the texting law. “People of all ages should have their hands on the wheel and be focused on the road when they are driving.”
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