Georgia State Patrol Starting Early on Goals for 2014

According to a recent article in the Walton Tribune, Georgia’s State Patrol is going to be stepping up enforcement of GA’s traffic laws over the next month and throughout 2014 with increased efforts to discourage speeding, texting while driving, driving without safety restraints in place(seat belt or car seat) and driving under the influence of either prescription medications or alcohol.

According to the article and Cpl. Jeremiah Slayton, assistant post commander for Post 46 south of Monroe, which covers Walton, Rockdale and Newton counties;

Traditionally during the holiday season we target motorists on the travel days before and after the holidays, as most people are usually with their families on Thanksgiving day and Christmas……But we are going to work harder on ensuring those efforts do not drop throughout the year.

For drivers in Walton County, Rockdale County and Newton County,  this means you’ve been forewarned to obey the laws, as you are more likely to get a speeding ticket, traffic ticket or DUI than before should you choose to violate Georgia traffic laws.

Read the article.

Speeding ticket in Walton County Georgia or Newton County Georgia?

Black Box Mandate for All Vehicles – New Device Locks It Down

Once the law that mandates a black box is in every vehicle goes into effect, you will be prohibited from removing it or altering in any way the data is is engineered to gather and provide, mostly data to enhance future improvements to vehicle safety and save lives. The truth is that the black black box is in place to monitor date and time of an accident, vehicle speed, engine speed, steering angle, throttle position, braking status, force of impact, seat belt status and airbag deployment as they occur during an accident.

What the black box cannot do includes alerting or monitoring whether the driver was intoxicated, violating a traffic law or using a cell phone.

A new product, still in the early stages of development, will at least enable you to “lock down” the data in the black box to prevent fraud or theft. The product, AutoCyb retails for $33 and will protect unauthorized access for anyone other than the driver, law enforcement, insurance companies or the vehicles manufacturer,  all of whom have the right to review or use the data as needed.

The black box will also assist in monitoring data about the vehicle itself in the event of a malfunction or failure, to provide the manufacturer with additional data to make vehicle improvements as needed. Many drivers are comfortable with sharing data with law enforcement or a manufacturer but have concerns over the “big brother is watching” nature of the black box.

Share your thoughts on the black box for vehicles.

Georgia Fraud Lawyer.

Electronic Insurance Cards for Proof of Insurance Considered in Georgia

Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota allow drivers pulled over for a traffic stop to show electronic proof of insurance via their smartphone. Many other states including Georgia are also considering bills or proposals to allow for this practice, states that currently have this bill on their legislative agendas for 2013 include Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Find out more information about other Georgia traffic laws.

Distracted Driving -The “It Won’t Happen to Me Excuse”

According to a recent article in the News Observer in Blue Ridge GA, even though all texting while driving is prohibited in Georgia, there are those still willing to violate the new law and they can be seen frequently on the roads, holding the phone low in their laps attempting to drive and text in an even more compromising position. You may have even thought to yourself, “I am just going to take my eyes off the road for a second and sent a one word reply, it won’t happen to me!”

Guess again. According to Kansas City attorney Doug Horn, a national distracted driving expert, “Because of the severe force of impact, distracted drivers are potentially more deadly than drunk drivers, who, even with their slowed reaction time, sometimes manage to partially brake and lessen the impact of the collision.” And Horn adds that running red lights (or stop signs) at full speed, swerving into oncoming traffic and rear-ending stopped vehicles are the three types of behavior resulting from distracted driving that are causing the most severe injuries and fatalities.

You can read the remainder of the article by visiting this site .

Though we tend to think teens and under 21 drivers  in GA are the major offenders, apparently many business men and women in older demographics are attempting to respond to emails and conduct business while behind the wheel. Its hard to break the cycle, especially if a parent is advocating young adults stop texting while driving, while continuing the ill fated practice.

Just stop. It can wait. Taking your eyes off the road to read ANYTHING is dangerous. The life you save may well be your own.



Bills Make Texting Illegal While Driving

Finally, several bills are on the Georgia Legislature that will make the practice of texting while driving illegal. Read the article at PBA online.

19 other states have laws regarding texting while driving.

Speeding Crackdown in Coweta County Georgia

Speeding continues to be a major problem with major consequences on Interstate 85 through Coweta County.

Georgia State Patrol’s Newnan Post Commander Sgt. Lance Greene and Coweta County Sheriff’s Office Lt. John LaChance are teaming up to make the Coweta corridor of Interstate 85 safer during ongoing construction. They are planning several enforcement crackdowns to get their point across.

From Dec. 1, 2006 — when the interstate widening and repaving project began — to June 1, 2009, the sheriff’s office’s traffic unit has worked 1,891 accidents on the county’s interstate corridor, according to LaChance. Of those accidents, 11 resulted in fatalities, and there were 728 injuries.

The sheriff’s office has issued 2,921 citations this year so far, and, of those, 2,611 were for speeding, said LaChance.

The speed limit through the construction zones is 50 mph and it will remain that way until the construction concludes and the state takes possession of the road from the contractors.

“There are a lot of people who are going 50-55 mph,” said Greene. “The message is out. Enforcement efforts have worked. But there’s always going to be a certain percentage of people who will exceed the speed limit. We are very forgiving of speed out there and we can still write tickets all day long. This is not about generating revenue — we’re being so forgiving that we should tighten up a bit.”

“Within one hour we can write 15 tickets, no problem — and that’s with high grace,” LaChance added.

Motorists who choose to drive 85 mph and above are basically declaring that they know “everything’s going to be perfect,” according to Greene. He said those motorists leave no reaction time in case something unexpectedly goes wrong.

“You can do everything right and that one guy out of 50 can do something stupid and all the other cars will get caught in it,” said Greene.

LaChance said the biggest ticket he’s written on the interstate was for a motorist traveling 108 mph. Greene has written a ticket for 101 mph and one for 105 mph — both motorists were stopped during the morning commute just north of Bullsboro Drive. Greene once clocked a motorcycle traveling 132 mph driving on the opposite side of the barrier wall, but he couldn’t get to him.

When the speed limit goes back to 70 mph after the construction project is finished, leniency will be gone, the officers warn. Anything over 85 mph — beginning Jan. 1 — will be violating the state’s new “Super Speeder” legislation and cost the driver an additional $200 on top of the citation. Also, speeding in construction zones doubles fines.

Motorists will be seeing a lot more law enforcement officers on the interstate. They plan to increase their visibility to pace traffic — especially over the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.

In addition to increased patrols around Labor Day, police will be using lasers to catch speeders during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. They also target drivers who are following too closely, motorists conducting improper lane changes, anyone driving under the influence and other traffic violations.

“We will be out there on travel days,” said LaChance. They are also aiming for one concentrated day a month in addition to holidays and routine patrols.

LaChance and Greene are pleading with drivers to pay attention to interstate signage as road conditions continue to change during the final stages of construction. They should especially pay attention to the signs warning of lane shifts, ones indicating an exit-only lane, and ones instructing drivers to merge ahead.

“We’re begging people to slow down,” said LaChance. “Slow down and save a little money in gas.”

The sheriff’s office is hoping to keep the number of wreck fatalities down to no more than 10 this year, through a campaign of education and enforcement. So far, the county’s had six traffic deaths.

Still, the sheriff’s office has consistently reduced the number of traffic-related deaths. In 2005, there were 34 deaths; in 2006, there were 26; in 2007, there were 20; and last year, there were 12.

“Don’t speed, don’t follow too closely and don’t drink and drive,” said Greene.

Article by Elizabeth Richardson, Newnan Times Herald

Speeding Ticket in Coweta County Traffic Court?

Budget Cuts Pull Troopers Off Georgia Highways & Interstates

Fewer state troopers will be patrolling Georgia roads beginning Saturday as the State Patrol beings furloughs that could take each patrolman off their assignment two days a month for the rest of the year.

The small agency — like all state agencies — has had to cut spending as Georgia’s finances have worsened.

While the governor has not approved the Department of Public Safety’s plan for twice-a-month furloughs, Commissioner Bill Hitchens says he has already told troopers they most likely will lose almost 10 percent of their pay starting this month. That also means the agency will reduce patrol deployments.

Some patrol posts are responsible for 15 to two dozen counties but have as few as eight troopers to provide 24-hour coverage.

To compensate for that shortage, for the past two years there have been no troopers driving most of Georgia’s 20,000 miles of roads and interstates in the early morning hours. Twenty of the state’s 48 patrol posts close between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. and don’t reopen until 7 a.m., leaving only an operator to take emergency calls and to rouse an on-call trooper from bed to respond.

“All of this isn’t finalized,” Hitchens, said about the proposal to furlough each trooper two days a month.

Troopers, who earned about $35,000 a year before the cuts, not only patrol rural highways and help with other law enforcement duties in those areas, they also watch for speeding and respond to accidents on interstates around major cities, including the Downtown Connector through Atlanta.

They provide traffic control for large events such as races, fairs and football games as well as security at Georgia and Georgia Tech football games.

“We’re looking at everything,” Hitchens said in an interview Saturday when asked about those special events that sometimes require troopers to travel across the state to work, adding the cost of food and hotels to the expense.

Article by Rhonda Cook,

Georgia Traffic Laws

Florida’s Seat Belt Law Enacted To Save Lives

Florida has a new law that goes into effect Tuesday of this week. Modeled after Georgia’s Seat Belt law which was enacted in 1996 and has saved thousands of lives, the law, according to the article below, is long overdue.

Beginning Tuesday, not wearing a seat belt can cost you about $100 under a new Florida law that changes enforcement of the state’s law. Officers now can stop people for not wearing a seat belt. Before, motorists could only be cited if they were stopped for another violationThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that Florida’s primary seat belt law will prevent roughly 1,700 serious auto accident injuries, 140 deaths and save about $408 million in associated costs yearly, Leeper said.

In 2007 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said seat belt usage in Georgia was at 89 percent.

Statistics for the state for 2007, the latest available from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, include:

– Of 1,972 people killed in crashes, 1,201, or 61 percent, of them were not wearing a seat belt.

– Florida’s seat belt usage rate is 81.7 percent, which ranks 31st out of the 50 states.

– Law enforcement officers in Florida issued 311,715 traffic citations for not wearing a seat belt as a secondary traffic offense.

The new measure carries a financial incentive passed by Congress in 2005. That program gives states a one-time federal grant to be spent on highway-related projects if the state adopts a primary enforcement law by June 30. Florida’s potential grant could be $35.5 million.

Some lawmakers had worried it would increase racial profiling. Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, was among the legislators who voted against the measure.

“I do have an issue with racial profiling not only of blacks but also of brown minorities, and I understand that seat belts save lives,” she said. “But I view this as a primary stop bill, not a primary seat belt law, so let’s call it what it really is.”

Georgia made it legal to pull over motorists solely for not wearing a seat belt effective July 1, 1996, according to Georgia Department of Public Safety spokesman Gordy Wright. It is a non-moving violation and carries a fine of $15.

Before it became a primary enforcement law, Georgia in 1995 had a fatal accident rate of 2.1 percent per 100 million miles traveled, Wright said, or about 1,600 fatalities. By 1999 that had dipped to 1.9 percent per 100 million miles, or about 1,500 fatalities.

“That was despite motor vehicle travel increasing about 5 percent a year,” Wright said. “There were more cars on the road and more drivers, but still the fatal accident rate declined.”

Article by Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Jacksonville. com

Georgia Traffic Laws

Florida Traffic Laws

Georgia Court Throws Out Georgia’s Left Turn Law

It should seem easy enough to write a law declaring it illegal to make a left-hand turn into the far right-hand lane on a multi-lane road.

But the Georgia Legislature so badly mangled the wording of the law the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday found it “unconstitutionally vague.”

A plain reading of the statute renders two “diametrically opposite interpretations,” Justice Carol Hunstein wrote. A person of “common intelligence” cannot determine with reasonable certainty that the law prohibits making a left-hand turn into the right lane of a multi-lane roadway, the ruling said.

Until the Legislature meets next year and fixes the law, police cannot longer hand out tickets to motorists who make the improper turn.

The court ruling was a legal victory for Todd Christopher McNair of Whitfield County. In 2007, he was arrested by Dalton police for DUI, obstruction of a police officer and making an improper left-hand turn. McNair should have turned into the left-hand lane, not the right-hand lane of the roadway, police said.

At trial, McNair was acquitted of DUI and obstruction but convicted of the improper turn. He was fined $500, given a year’s probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. He also was sentenced to four months in jail for a probation violation.

Benjamin Goldberg, a Whitfield County public defender, said when he first read the statute he couldn’t believe it — or comprehend it.

“It was jibberish,” Goldberg said. “It was like reading another language.”

The law starts out well enough, clearly instructing drivers to be in the far left-hand lane of the ongoing traffic before making a left turn.

But then the statute becomes indecipherable: “Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as such vehicle on the roadway being entered.”

Goldberg said even attorneys have a hard enough time interpreting some state laws. But this one, he said, was off the charts.

Article by Bill Rankin, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia Traffic Laws

Royston Georgia Got the Cart Before The Ordinance

The Royston Police Department has a golf cart but cannot legally use it except in about a quarter of the city, according to Police Chief Daniel Cleveland.

City Attorney Mike Green said Cleveland told him golf carts, including the police golf cart, were legal on city streets without an ordinance but could not cross state highways without one.

“Right now, as we confirmed before the meeting, according to Chief Cleveland, it’s legal to operate these carts on city streets without an ordinance, but you have to have an ordinance that allows them to cross a state highway.”

Green said the city finds itself in a dilemma without the ordinance. “Our city police department owns a golf cart that they use. They can operate it on city streets, but they can’t cross a state highway with it without the ordinance.” Green said the ordinance would not apply just to the police golf cart but to all citizens.

Golf carts will only be allowed to cross state highways at street crossings or intersections. Golf carts will not be allowed to ride on state highways, only cross them.

“You can, in effect, jaywalk with the cart,” said Green.

Councilman Keith Turman questioned the ability to enforce the code if cart drivers did not have a license. Turman was told anyone driving a cart on a city street or crossing a state highway would be required to hold a valid driver’s license.

“If this ordinance passes, who is going to be responsible for doing the inspections on these vehicles?” asked Turman.

“I guess it would be the city marshal,” said Green. “Any city police officer could stop and check at any time,” he added.

“What happens if a golf cart is in an accident when crossing the highway? Is the person permitted with a license and if they were at fault would they be responsible at that point?” asked Turman.

Turman then asked if the city was placing itself in any more liability by passing the ordinance.

“I don’t think it would give the city any more exposure,” said Green. “I think that’s more of a civil matter between the parties. I don’t think it exposes the city to any more liability.”

“This ordinance that we may put into place will affect people that have golf carts now. Some of them will no longer be able to drive their golf carts,” said Councilwoman Angie Pressley. “I say that, but I assume that because it says you have to have a valid driver’s license. Pressley said the city could require a license or an age limit, like over 18.”

Turman said if a license was not required the city could not expect cart operators to adhere to traffic laws. “We can’t hold them liable for traffic laws if they don’t have a driver’s license,” said Turman.

Councilman David Jordan asked if someone could be charged with DUI in a golf cart and was told they could. “You can be charged even on a horse,” said Pressley.

Jordan said he too was concerned about golf carts becoming involved in an accident. “They don’t have to have liability insurance and we [automobile drivers] do,” said Jordan.

Green said it was unclear how golf carts were legal on city streets but go-carts were not under state law.

“I’ll be happy to put something in the ordinance which requires minimum Georgia limits of liability insurance,” said Green.

While council members seemed to be in favor of the ordinance they asked Green to revise the current draft and return with an updated version next month.

Franklin County Citizen, Mark Berryman

Royston Georgia Traffic & Speeding Ticket Info