You would think with increased technology relating to crash avoidance in cars such as forward collision warning (sensors determine distance and speed between vehicles and warns driver with audible alert of potential collision), auto brake, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention (track vehicle position within lane via camera and alerts driver), adaptive headlights (headlights pivot around curves and corners based on speed and steering wheel movement to illuminate the road ahead), park assist and back over protection (sensors and cameras help avoid crashes during park and backup maneuvers), adaptive cruise control (forward sensors maintain a forward safe gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of it while maintaining a variable cruise control) and blind spot detection (sensors that monitor nearby cars that enter your lane), that traffic related fatalities in Georgia would be on the decrease. However, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) study, the number of persons killed in car wrecks has actually increased by 12% for the first time in nine years. According to statistics, 704 people died on Georgia roads through August 2014 and in 2015, that number increased to 791. To put that in perspective, the statistics for traffic fatalities in the country have increase 14%. Previously, the GDOT saw a decrease in fatalities every year for almost the past decade.
The question becomes what is the reason(s) behind the alarming increase in traffic fatalities? The GDOT believes there are several factors, including less expensive gas, better economy and distracted drivers, among others. However, the GDOT maintains that the majority of the fault lies with people that operate vehicles while distracted, including texting, tweeting, checking emails, cell phone usage, eating breakfast/lunch/dinner and makeup. As most of us know, it is illegal to text and drive in Georgia. Yet, a good number of drivers still drive and text on the roads of Georgia.
I was interviewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution for an article dated March 27, 2007 regarding a 2007 new DeKalb County law that allowed for a citation up to $500.00 for drivers whose “improper” use of a mobile telephone was deemed to be a contributing factor to a collision. In that interview, I discussed my contention that such a law would be difficult to enforce and prove by the investigating police unless the offending motorist admitted it (not likely) or an eyewitness saw it. The investigating police do not have the financial means and time to subpoena the cell phone service carrier to determine if the motorist was on the phone at the time of the wreck. Additionally, some motorists contend that even if they were on the phone, they were using a Bluetooth system which was hands free and did not constitute a distraction. Since that time, there is a statewide law against texting and driving. However, the problem remains as to enforcement and proof.