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Highway Safety Group Recommends Stronger GDL Laws, Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Laws for Georgia

Highway accident fatalities in Georgia have been on the decline over the past few years, but the state could make more progress towards keeping more motorists safer on its roads. That is the opinion of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an organization that rates all 50 states each year on their highway safety performance.
The report ranks states in three color-coded categories – green, yellow and red. Green signifies the best performance and indicates that the state has complied with most of the group’s recommended highway safety laws, and yellow signifies that while the state has made some progress in complying with these laws, there still remains a lot more work to be done. Red is the worst rating on the scale and is only given to those states that have failed to enact important safety laws.

This year, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Georgia a Yellow rating for its performance in complying with critical safety laws that help prevent accidents.The group ranked states based on the state’s compliance with laws related to child restraint use, seat belt use, drunk driving prevention, distracted driving prevention, graduated driver licensing laws, motorcycle helmet laws and others.

Most states in the report fared badly in the graduated driver’s license (GDL) category. The group recommended that Georgia’s graduated driver’s licensing laws be changed to mandate 16 as the minimum age for a person to receive a learner’s permit.(Currently, Georgia drivers can receive a learner’s permit at 15 years old with no formal driving training at all.)

The group recommends that Georgia, which saw 1,179 fatalities in 2013, enact primary enforcement seat belt laws for rear seat occupants. When seatbelt laws are subject to primary enforcement, officers can pull motorists over for failing to comply with the law without having to observe any other traffic infraction first. That means that these laws are definitely much more stringent, and are more strongly enforced compared to secondly enforcement laws, that require law-enforcement officers to first observe some other traffic infraction before they pull a motorist over for not wearing a seatbelt.

The group also recommends stronger nighttime driving restrictions, and passenger restrictions for novice drivers and a law that would require the installation of ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders.