Distracted driving has been around for... well... probably nearly as long as cars have been around.
Smartphones, however, have taken distracted driving to a whole new devastating level. The death toll on Georgia’s highways has been spiking over the past few years, and many of these accidents are being attributed to increased cell phone use.
In an effort to curb these unfortunate consequences of distracted driving, Georgia recently enacted a Hands-Free driving law beginning July 1, 2018.
Law enforcement is cracking down on distracted driving too, and the conviction rates have jumped up — even doubling in some instances.
So, which Georgia counties had the highest distracted driving conviction rates?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, several of the counties surrounding the Atlanta metro area fared worst. However, other counties on opposite corners of the Peach State appear on the list too — showing that distracted driving is a statewide issue.
Listed below are the 5 worst counties for distracted driving in Georgia according to recent data:
1. Jackson County, GA
Located in the northeastern corner of the state, Jackson County comes in at the top of the list of worst counties for distracted driving convictions. Jackson County has a population of a little over 60,000. For every 1,000 of these residents, 5.72 received distracted driving convictions in 2018. This made for a grand total of 346 distracted driving convictions in 2018, which is shocking 223 more than the previous year.
2. Gwinnett County, GA
Next on this list is Gwinnett County. With a population around 920,000, Gwinnett County is much larger than Jackson County. However, its distracted driver conviction rate of 5.40 per 1,000 residents comes right under Jackson County. Another startling statistic is that in 2018 there were 2,481 more convictions for distracted driving in Gwinnett County than the previous year.
3. Liberty County, GA
Coming in as the Georgia’s third worst county for distracted driving is Liberty County. Sitting in the southeastern corner of Georgia, Liberty County had a 33% increase in its 2018 distracted driver conviction rate, which was 76 more than 2017. From its population of a little over 64,000, that rate is 4.48 convictions per 1,000 residents.
4. Walker County, GA
Fourth on the list is Walker County. Located in the northeastern corner of the state with a population around 70,000, Walker County’s distracted driving conviction rate is 4.64 per 1,000 residents. Compared to the previous year’s data, 257 more convictions for distracted driving were handed out in 2018.
5. Hall County, GA
Rounding out the list of the five worst Georgia counties for distracted driving convictions is Hall County. Hall County’s distracted driver convictions increased by 302 in 2018 from the year before, which equates to a rate of 4.27 convictions per 1,000 residents.
Don’t forget about work-related distracted driving
Although people often equate distracted driving to private vehicles, this isn’t an accurate look at the full picture. Those whose jobs require driving also contribute to the problem of distracted driving in Georgia and across the country. In particular, distracted driving has become a problem for truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established to help prevent commercial vehicle injuries and fatalities, and they’ve recently passed laws to prohibit hand-held mobile phone use.
In a nutshell, the FMCSA’s rules regarding mobile device use by commercial drivers includes the following:
- No reaching
- No holding
- No dialing
- No texting
- No reading
The penalties for those caught breaking distracted driving law range anywhere from a fine of up to $2,750 for the driver (or an employer who allows or requires drivers to use mobile phones being fined up to $11,000) to a driver being fired.