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Texting while driving going up despite law

7:54 AM, Dec 9, 2011   |    comments
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Georgia's one of 35 states that have tough new laws cracking down on texting and driving. Despite that the numbers of people violating it have shot up 50%.

ATLANTA -- Georgia's one of 35 states that have tough new laws cracking down on texting and driving. Despite that, the numbers of people violating it have shot up 50 percent.

In a snapshot of driver habits, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the number of drivers texting at any given moment behind the wheel rose from .6 percent to nearly 1 percent.

Two out of every 10 drivers admitted they did it occasionally. And for young people between 21 and 24 years old, the number was a staggering one out of two.

"Honestly, since I got this (new iPhone) I've been more likely to do it," said a drive named Jennifer. "It's easier to text on this than the phone I had before. It's horrible to have to admit but yeah. I try to wait; I try to not be moving. But I sit on GA 400 every day."

Jennifer is by no means alone.

State officials believe there may be a correlation between the uptick in TWD and the prolific increase in the numbers of fancy new cell phones.

"In 2000 there were 97 million subscribers," said Spencer Moore, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "In 2009, there were nearly 300 million. As those numbers continue to go up, certainly that increases the exposure and opportunity for folks to text and drive."

Part of the problem may be the difficult enforcement of the law. It's never clear whether a potential violator is dialing their phone or texting. By the way, below the age of 18, it's illegal to do either.

Since this summer, when the new texting ban went into effect, the entire Georgia State Patrol has only given out about 100 tickets.

That may be giving drivers a false sense of security.

"It's just easier," Jennifer confessed. "It's just easier to do."

(We managed to wrench a promise from her that she'll at least try to do better when it comes to obeying the law.)

While one in four motorists said texting makes no difference to how they drive, experts disagree, suggesting that texting while driving is nearly as dangerous as drinking while driving.

Next time you do it, please check out the passengers in your vehicle shaking with fear. Ninety percent of them said they are very scared when you drive and text.

You should be too.

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