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Posted: October 30, 2012 11:21 a.m.

Nearly 1,300 drivers convicted of texting

ATLANTA (AP) - Fewer than 50 drivers a month have been convicted of texting and driving in the two years since a law to ban texting went into effect, state records show.

As of mid-September, 1,281 motorists had been convicted of the offense since the state law took effect on July 1, 2010, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The number represents a small fraction of the 22,500 people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the same time frame.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services only tracks convictions, not the number of citations issued, agency spokeswoman Susan Sports said.

Some law enforcement officers say the law is difficult to enforce.

State troopers have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking, said Lt. Les Wilburn, assistant troop commander for the Georgia State Patrol. Most drivers simply stash their phone when an officer is in sight, he added.

"We're having the same obstacles we've had since the law came into effect," Wilburn said. "They're looking for us now, because they know it's against the law, and they don't do it while we're in a car sitting right next to them."

A violation results in a $150 fine.

Enforcement varies greatly depending on the county, according to state records.

In Gwinnett County, 665 texting drivers were convicted - more than in all other Georgia counties combined.

By comparison, 64 drivers in convicted in Cobb County. Fulton County had 43 convictions; Clayton County had 20 convictions; and DeKalb County had 16.

Last year, there were 3,840 crashes attributed to cell phone use/distracted driving in Georgia, according to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Nine were fatal and 955 resulted in serious injuries.

 

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