Thomasville police will use a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving.
Thomasville Police Department (TPD) is participating in the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay, high-visibility enforcement campaign that combines periods of intense enforcement of anti-texting laws.
“People need to know that we are serious about stopping this deadly behavior,” said TPD Lt. Donna Langston. “Driving and texting has reached epidemic levels, and enforcement of our state texting law is part of the cure.”
A woman Langston saw run a red light at East Jackson and Crawford streets — with a child in the vehicle — told the officer she would not have run the red light if she had not been texting.
Some drivers openly text, resting phones on steering wheels.
“You can see them physically texting as they’re driving,” Langston said.
A lot of texting goes on at traffic lights, the officer explained.
Convicted texters pay a $75 fine in Thomasville Municipal Court for a first offense.
Georgia laws apply to texting and cell phone use while driving:
• A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on Georgia highways and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle, provided that the proper use of a radio, citizens band radio or mobile telephone shall not be a violation of this code section.
• Cell phone use is prohibited for certain drivers under 18 years of age. Except in a driver emergency, no person who has an instruction permit or a Class D license and is under 18 years of age shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway in Georgia while engaging in a wireless communication using a wireless telecommunications device. Engaging in a wireless communication means the act of participating in any of the following: Talking, writing, sending or reading a text-based communication or listening on a wireless telecommunications device.
• No person 18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway in Georgia while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send or read any text-based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail or Internet data.
“When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the task of driving. That puts everyone else’s lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that,” Langston said.
“We’re serious about enforcing texting laws. If you drive and text, you will pay,” the officer added.
In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 injured nationwide in distraction-affected crashes.
The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
Visit www.distraction.gov for more information.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.