The 2012 federal transportation bill includes $46 million in state grants to enhance distracted driving education programs over two years. Authorized by Congress under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, it also includes $27 million for states adopting certain safety standards including prohibitions of cell phones while driving and graduated drivers' license programs. Graduated license programs are state mandated laws requiring new drivers, typically teens, to acquire a certain number of practice driving hours before they receive their licenses as well as restrictions to the age and number of passengers they are allowed to carry initially.
Teens would be significantly impacted by Georgia's alteration of the graduated drivers' license programs. Georgia license laws now require teen drivers to be at least 15 years old before they can qualify for a learner's driving permit. All new drivers must have at least 40 hours of practice driving including six hours at night before they qualify to take the Georgia written and driving tests. Teens may not carry any passengers for the first six months after obtaining their license, no more than one passenger under the age of 21 for the second six months, and no more than three passengers until the driver reaches 18 years old.
Georgia has not made any announcements about changes to current laws regarding cell phone use while driving. Texting and driving is illegal in Georgia pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-241. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that enforcement of Georgia's texting and driving ban is nearly nonexistent. In over two years since the law went into effect there has been an average of less than 50 convictions per month. In 2011, nearly 4,000 accidents in Georgia were attributed to distracted driving and cell phone use; nearly 1,000 accidents resulted in injury and nine were fatal crashes. Clayton County convicted only 20 people for distracted driving.
If you or someone you know has been hurt by a distracted driver, meet with a Clayton County auto accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Shane Smith at 888-927-6955 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation.