Don't read this article while driving.
Recent traffic crash data shows that distracted driving is a big issue for motorists on the city streets of Dalton. In fact, distracted driving causes more traffic crashes and injuries related to those crashes than speeding or drunk driving combined. While the Dalton Police Department has always tracked statistics for speed and DUI-related crashes, the agency began tracking distracted driving crashes in September 2011 after observing an increase in the number of crashes attributed to at least one distracted driver.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 20% of all injury crashes involve a distracted driver. NHTSA statistics also show 18% of all fatalities were the result of a driver using a cell phone. The Dalton PD's own stats show there were 75 traffic crashes related to distracted driving compared to 35 crashes related to speeding and DUI combined for the first six months of 2012 in Dalton. Our statistics also show injuries received in distracted driving crashes accounted for 11% of the total injuries while speed and DUI combined to account for 8% of injuries.
So what is distracted driving? Under Georgia Law ( OCGA 40-6-241, 40-6-241.1) it can be any action which would distract the driver from safe operation of a vehicle, not just cell phone use, and would include the following things.
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player
- Or, as simple as taking your eyes off the road
If the operator of a motor vehicle is engaged in any of the above activities and violates a Georgia traffic law, they can be charged with violating the original traffic law as well as distracted driving. That’s two citations!
The Dalton Police Department needs your help in making our roadways safer. Please refrain from activities that distract you, your friends, or loved ones from the safe operation of their vehicle.
Part of our agency's commitment to making the streets of Dalton safe has to do with educating the public, not just enforcing traffic laws. Anyone belonging to a civic group, church group, school or any employer that would like to host an education event can contact the department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit at 706-278-9085, ext 124.