A company analyzed the behavior of Georgia motorists before and after the state's distracted driving law took effect last summer. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Study: Georgia cellphone law reduced distracted driving

A new analysis shows Georgia’s distracted driving law has changed the way some drivers use their phones behind the wheel. 

TrueMotion, a firm that collects and analyzes phone data for insurance companies, found Georgia drivers spent less time texting and using apps behind the wheel after the law took effect last July

The new law prohibits motorists from handling phones or other electronic devices while driving (you can read the details here). To examine its effectiveness, TrueMotion analyzed the behaviors of more than 21,000 Georgia drivers for seven months – three months before and four months after the law took effect. The analysis tracked motorists’ behaviors across more than 1.2 million hours of driving time and more than 37 million miles traveled. 

“In the three months leading up to the new law, driver in Georgia were texting and using apps 19.5 percent of their time behind the wheel,” the company found. “In other words, for every hour on the road, Georgians were typing or swiping on their phones nearly 12 minutes.” 

But distracted driving behaviors dropped off sharply after the law took effect. 

“Overall, distracted driving fell to 15.4 percent of total driving time, a 21 percent decrease,” the company found. 

TrueMotion said it remains to be seen whether the drop is temporary or lasting. In other states that passed such laws, it found distraction rates have crept back up “when the hype dies down.” 

TrueMotion’s findings describe the changes in behavior among drivers who agreed to be monitored for insurance and other purposes and may not precisely reflect changes among other Georgia drivers. But Marketing Director Matt Fiorentino said the sample size for the analysis is large, and it likely shows Georgia drivers changed their behavior to some degree.

“It may not be 21 percent for the entire population – it could 15 percent or 25 percent, but the amount of change we’ve seen suggests a downward trend in distraction,” he said.

You can read more about the analysis here.

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About the Author

David Wickert
David Wickert
David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois...
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