The Great Hang Up: 13WMAZ Checks Out Distracted Drivers

8:49 PM, May 17, 2010   |    comments
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13WMAZ hit the road to check out Central Georgian driving distracted first-hand.

We made our first stop at the Spring Street and Riverside Drive intersection in Macon. We spent about an hour on the corners of the intersection and found more than 150 distracted drivers.

View:The Great Hang Up Special Page


We found people doing things including texting, talking on the phone, smoking, and eating.

In fact we spotted:

- 2 applying make-up
- 10 texting
- 13 eating or drinking
- 22 smoking behind the wheel
- 107 talking on the phone

Of those talking on the phone, most did not have a hands-free device.

13WMAZ also traveled around to ask drivers their thoughts on distracted driving; especially talking on the phone and texting.

"Sometimes I'll talk on the phone while I'm driving, but I don't like to text while I'm driving because it's really, really distracting, and dangerous so I stay away from it. If I'm at a stop light I can text someone if I really need to but usually I just stay away," said Mercer student Emily DePhillips. She says she'll even try to ask her friend not to text and drive if she's riding in the car when they do.

"I think it's extremely dangerous. The most important thing you can do while you're driving is pay attention to what's happening around you and to the road in front of you," said Mary Beem.

"I talk on the phone I don't text. I think it's a good idea not to do it however I do business this way. I'm in real estate so a lot of business happens while I'm traveling," added William Taylor.

Next we headed down Interstate 75 to where Riverside Drive crosses Tom Hill Senior Boulevard.

Here we found much of the same. In an hour we saw:

- 7 texting
- 14 eating or drinking
- 19 smoking behind the wheel
- 130 talking on the phone

Many drivers we spoke to admitted to talking on the phone even though it's distracting but some said they drew the line at texting with their wheels still in motion.

"I don't answer, I don't answer it has to wait till I can get to a complete stop," said Michelle Williams of how she handle text and phone call while on the road.

"I personally don't think that I can do it because you have to hit the button to turn on the phone and do all this other stuff," said Lou Sadler, and she's not alone.

"It's too challenging to drive and see the words. Naw, I don't do that," said Taylor.

Still, some drivers continue to text and drive. Lashunda Williams admitted to the habit.

"I feel like if somebody texts me, I'll just text them back. It's unsafe but I do it," she said.

A study done by Carnegie Mellon University found that driving with a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

We made our final stop at Pio Nono Avenue and Eisenhower Parkway, where in one hour we found:

- 3 texting
- 3 applying make-up
- 14 eating or drinking
- 19 smoking behind the wheel
- 137 talking on the phone


"I'm guilty of drinkin' a coke while I'm driving down the road myself, but they're not as bad as talking on the phone or texting" said Tex Bentley.

"This texting business is worse than drinking, or driving drunk," said Lou Sadler.

While we were out we saw someone driving with a pet in their lap and driver combining distraction like smoking and talking on the phone at the same time.

We also caught officers with the Warner Robins and Macon Police Department on the phone while driving, as well as someone driving a tractor trailer, and while that's not against the law, The government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that and other things that take your hands off the wheel, or your mind and eyes off the road still create distractions.

NHTSA says nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 because of distracted drivers, and more than half a million people were injured in distracted driving accidents.

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