“OPERATION SAFE DRIVER” Hands Free – Distracted Driving Awareness and Enforcement Campaign

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Next Monday, the Thomasville Police Department will kick off their Operation Safe Driver initiative aimed at reducing instances of distracted driving. During the week of May 20th through Memorial Day, May 27th, TPD will be conducting a hands free-distracted driving operation to bring awareness to the serious consequences of violating Georgia’s “hands free” distracted driving law.

“On July 1, 2018, Georgia Legislation passed a ‘hands free’ driving law that prohibits drivers of motor vehicles from operating cell phones, wireless devices or other devices that distract the driver from the operation of their vehicle,” said Police Chief Troy Rich. “Using a cell phone while driving, for example, creates enormous potential for death and injury on our highways and roadways. Distracted driving accounts for approximately 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities and is a major factor in more than 3,400 traffic deaths each year.”

In Georgia, drivers may no longer have a cell phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. “This includes using your device while you are stopped at a red light or stop sign,” said Rich, noting that there are some exceptions to the law, such as reporting a traffic crash, a fire, or medical emergencies. “It is also acceptable to utilize your phone when reporting criminal activity or hazardous road conditions.”

Rich said that TPD has cited or warned 215 drivers for “hands free” violations since it became law last summer. “Because Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer travel season, we want to use this as an opportunity to remind our local drivers about this law so that we can hopefully help our drivers remain safe while travelling not only this holiday weekend, but also throughout the entire summer,” he said. “TPD investigates approximately 700 motor vehicle crashes on the roadways annually, and a major contributing factor to these motor vehicle crashes is following too closely, or being distracted while operating a vehicle.”

TPD will have additional staff on duty on Tuesday, May 21st and Thursday, May 23rd from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to assist with Operation Safe Driver. The areas of focus next week will include the local intersections with the highest rates of motor vehicle crashes, including:

  • Smith Ave/Hansell St
  • Smith Ave/Kern St
  • Smith/Ave Pinetree Blvd
  • Remington Ave/Pinetree Blvd
  • Remington Ave/US HWY 19
  • E. Jackson St/US HWY 19
  • E. Jackson St/Pinetree Blvd

“Our goal during this campaign is to help avoid dangerous accidents before they occur by reminding drivers to put down their cell phones,” Rich said. “That text message can wait; motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers cause serious bodily injury and deaths. We want all of our traveling citizens to arrive safely at their destinations.”