Recent traffic crash data show that distracted driving is a major concern for motorists on the city streets of Dalton. In fact, distracted driving causes more traffic-related crashes and injuries related to those crashes than speeding or driving under the influence combined.

While the Dalton Police Department has always tracked traffic crashes related to speed and DUI, it began tracking traffic crashes related to distracted driving in September 2011 after seeing the contributing factor to a larger number of crashes was at the hands of a distracted driver.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 20 percent of all injury crashes involve a distracted driver. Statistics reported by NHTSA also show that 18 percent of all fatalities were the result of a driver using a cellphone. Statistics from DPD show there were 75 traffic crashes related to distracted driving compared to 35 crashes related to speeding and DUI combined for the first six months of the year in the city. Statistics also show injuries received in crashes related to distracted driving accounted for 11 percent of the total injuries, while speed and DUI combined for 8 percent of the total injuries.

But, what is distracted driving? Under Georgia Law (OCGA 40-6-241, 40-6-241.1), it can be any action which would distract the driver from safe operation of a vehicle, not just cellphone use, and would include the following:

• Using a cellphone.

• Eating and drinking.

• Talking to passengers.

• Grooming.

• Reading, including maps.

• Using a PDA or navigation system.

• Watching a video.

• Changing the radio station, CD or MP3 player.

• Taking your eyes off the road.

If the operator of a motor vehicle is engaged in any of the above activities and violates a Georgia traffic law, the person can be charged with violating the original traffic law as well as distracted driving. That’s two citations.

The Dalton Police Department needs your help in making our roadways safer. Please refrain from those activities that would distract you, your friends and loved ones from the safe operation of the vehicle and reduce the possibility of a motor vehicle-related injury.

The Dalton Police Department is committed to making the streets of Dalton safe for all motorists not only through enforcement, but through education as well. If anyone belongs to a civic group, church group, school or any employers that would like to sponsor an education event, please contact the department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit at (706) 278-9085, ext. 124.

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