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LaGrange, Georgia City Ordinance May Ban Texting While Driving

LaGrange, Georgia Mayor Jeff Lukken initiated a city ordinance after pointing out that a driver is 23 times more likely to have an accident if texting while driving.

The proposed ordinance, if approved by the Mayor and City Council, would prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle while in the City Limits of LaGrange. It would carry proposed fines of $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, and $150 for the third offense. The fine could be as high as $1,000 if the texting causes an accident.

Chief Louis Dekmar, Director of Public Safety for the City of LaGrange, said that enforcing the ordinance would be difficult, but he also pointed out that police officers could look at cell phones to determine whether or not a driver had recently been texting.

If the ordinance is passed, police would be able to stop drivers who appear to be sending or reading text messages. Drivers would be able to refute charges by showing their cell phone to officers.

Mayor Lukken said that the ordinance would send a strong message to the citizens: “Don’t Text and Drive in LaGrange.” The ordinance would also apply to those with learner’s permits.

During the public hearing of the first reading of the ordinance at a recent LaGrange City Council meeting, one citizen said that it would be “impossible to enforce” and questioned possible profiling by age, gender, and race. Mayor Lukken responded, “We are trying to send a message to the citizens that it is 23 times more dangerous driving a car when texting.”

The Mayor also explained that police would be able to tell if drivers were texting immediately before accidents. City Manager Tom Hall pointed out that 18 states have already banned text messaging while driving. Georgia is one of the states that has not banned texting while driving.

Last month in Savannah, Georgia, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) enacted a policy to encourage every state to ban texting behind the wheel for all drivers. GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey said, “The action by the GHSA membership is based on the fact that texting while driving is indisputably a distraction and a serious highway safety problem. If every state passes a texting ban, it will send a message to the public that this dangerous practice is unacceptable. We can begin to change the culture that has permitted distracted driving.”

Later this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation will host a Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit will focus on ways to reduce wrecks caused by distracted driving behaviors like texting.

If you haven’t seen the graphic public service announcement about texting while driving, I highly recommend that you watch it and show it to others (especially younger drivers).

Something to think about: while not a national law, many states are adopting an increase in auto insurance premiums as a penalty for texting while driving. So not only does distracted driving endanger lives, but one may be paying for texting and driving for many years to come.

Have you been injured by a distracted driver? If you need a Georgia accident lawyer, call the experienced lawyers at Neff Injury Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.