Driving distraction away

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Another distracted driving crackdown by Columbus Police leaves many wondering what counts as being distracted on the road.

When people hear distracted driving, they tend to think of being on a cell phone or talking with passengers in the car. But neither of these things are the biggest cause for distracted driving deaths.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 60 percent of distracted driving deaths are cognitive related or just being lost in thought.

“If we try to focus on pulling drivers over who we think are causing the most collisions on the highway, police would almost have to mind readers,” Al Barber, president of Barber’s Driving School said. “The only way you can know for sure that they are in fact daydreaming is after the fact.”

Distracted driving is in the spotlight with the recent sting operations carried out by Columbus Police. Many are asking: What counts as distracted driving?

“Yes we know people drink coffee on the way to work,” Major J.D. Hawk with the Columbus Police Department said. “If somebody takes a french fry and puts it in their mouth and they’re not going off the road, they’re not speeding, they’re not doing any other infraction I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. But cars were not intended to be driven with knees.”

Al Barber runs a driving school and teaches around 3,000 students a year.

“We talk about the law and we talk about the penalties of using a cell phone if worst case scenarios occur,” Barber said. “But we go further in the classroom to teach them that it’s impossible to do two things at one time.”

One local politician is considering proposing new legislation.

“Include a stipulation that the vehicle must be in motion for it to be a distracted driving charge,” State Representative John Pezold said.

He hopes things like changing the radio or eating will be allowed while stopped at a red light. The vote won’t come for a few months and in the meantime Major Hawk said stings will continue.

You can follow this link for a full list of laws related to distracted driving.

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