As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, a state House of Representatives committee is looking for ways to stem the rising death toll on Georgia highways, focusing on distracted driving – fiddling with our phones and other devices when we should be paying attention to the road. Among the ideas under consideration: requiring drivers to use hands-free phone technology and boosting the penalties for distracted driving.
The article prompted many people to share horror stories of dumb behavior they’ve seen on metro Atlanta highways. Here’s one tale from reader Bob Grayson:
My wife and I were witness to what could have been a horrible accident on Ronald Reagan Boulevard here in Cumming.
We were leaving Northside Hospital and were the second car in line waiting to turn left on to Ronald Reagan at the light. When the light turned green the car in front of us started to make its left turn onto Ronald Reagan.
A car coming north on Ronald Reagan did not stop (or even slow down) at the red light, breezing through as if there were no other cars using the road. He continued on up in the turn lane to GA 20. The driver of the car in front of us was alert enough to swerve and avoid a collision even as he sounded his horn to alert the other driver.
When we neared the intersection at GA 20 we noticed that the driver that ran the red light did not appear to be paying attention to what he was doing and, in fact, appeared to be "texting" on his phone. He appeared be oblivious to what had just occurred. When we passed him on our way up the road it appeared that he was still occupied with his phone. If not for the quick reaction by the car in front of us, this could have been the scene of a disaster.
The drivers on our roads need to be aware that a slight error in judgement or using their cellphones while in traffic can have horrible consequences. If anyone can convince them of this then he/she/they deserve a medal of some kind for saving lives. Personally, I don't think it is possible (but we can always hope). Meanwhile our police should be authorized to crack down on these offenders.
So what’s your horror story? I’d like to hear them. Send them to email@example.com. Please include your name and place of residence (Atlanta, Lawrenceville, College Park, etc.). I’ll publish a selection on the Spinning Our Wheels blog soon and may use some for an upcoming AJC article.
In the meantime, you can learn more about lawmakers' efforts to combat distracted driving here.