CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. - Heads up, Cherokee County drivers. Deputies are cracking down on distracted driving.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jay Baker said they are doing it to raise awareness of the Hands-Free Law during “Distracted Driver Awareness Month.”
“People are on their phones. People are watching movies. People are texting. Obviously, people are making phone calls but you can't touch your phone anymore,” Baker said.
Baker said the crackdown, which started Wednesday, focuses on distracted driving, but they will also enforce seat belt violations.
Channel 2 Action News was there as Lt. Pete Turcotte scanned car after car on the hunt for distracted drivers.
“We got eight of us out here today. We're all looking for those hands-free violations,” Turcotte said.
Deputies were in full effect on the south end of the county, and 22 citations were issued to distracted drivers by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Deputies said not every stop ends with a citation. Some drivers do receive a warning.
Education is key and numbers show enforcement is paramount.
There were 34 fatalities from distracted driving in Cherokee County in 2017. That dropped to 18 fatalities for the year, when the state's hands-free law went into effect in 2018.
Turcotte said in 20 years of policing, he's heard it all.
“Usually then, they'll try to minimize it and say, 'Well, yeah, I was holding my phone but I wasn't texting on it. I was just holding it,'” Turcotte said. “We're trying to take as much corrective action as we can to keep people safe on the roads. We've only had one fatality this year and we'd really like to keep it that way."
Deputies posted on social media ahead of the enforcement.
Over the past 10 years, the number of crashes in which distracted driving played a role has increased drastically in Georgia. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were more than 25,000 crashes involving distracted driving in 2016, compared with fewer than 6,000 in 2006.
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