GPD chief speaks on Distracted Driver Initiative


Based on a state law, the Griffin Police Department has announced it will be conducting a Distracted Driver Initiative.

This initiative is designed to curtail many of the circumstances that result in motor vehicle wrecks.

The state law, OCGA 40-6-241, in part states, “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle…”

The GPD, as part of its initiative, issued a press release citing examples of activities that could cause a driver to become distracted including textin; grooming; reading to include maps; using a navigation system; watching a video; adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player; and eating and drinking.

Local social media sites remain abuzz with concerns and complaints about this initiative, with some alleging this is merely a revenue-generating action.

GPD Chief Mike Yates has addressed those concerns.

“This is not about revenue. It’s not about writing tickets. It’s not about writing warnings. We don’t want to do any of those things. We just want you to stop. We think the number one cause of wrecks is distracted driving. We just want you to stop,” Yates said. “There’s lots of statistics out there about distracted driving, and I’ll tell you, I think it’s a bigger problem than DUI.”

Regarding the specific activities the PD previously cited as examples, Yates said, “Mostly what we’re talking about are activities you shouldn’t be engaging in when you’re supposed to be operating a 3,000-plus pound vehicle.”

Some have expressed concern that Griffin law enforcement officers will be spending time enforcing the state’s distracted driving law rather than fighting what some view as “real” crime that some suggest is rapidly increasing. However, actual crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate otherwise.

According to official reports, incidents of Part 1 crime including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson are decreasing.

“City of Griffin Part 1 crime rate is down 13 percent year to date as compared with this same time period in 2015,” Yates said.

However, wrecks occurring in roadways has increased by 12.63 percent with the rate of injuries showing an increase of 8.37 percent during the same time period.

Yates also addressed comments regarding his officers’ actions while on duty.

“Before this began, I sent everyone an email. I said we need to be the ones setting the example,” Yates said.

That email stated, “All, We are implementing a distracted driver initiative. It’s important that while working on this that we don’t set a bad example, so make sure you are cognizant of public perception, etc., when using your cell phones. Distracted driving is one of, if not the most common, action giving rise to accidents, so let’s set a good example.”

Yates also stressed that merely engaging in the activities the PD cited – other than texting, which is patently prohibited while driving – will not result in a driver receiving a citation.

“To cite a driver for anything other than texting or what’s specifically listed in the code section, another violation would be required,” he said.

He then reiterated that this initiative is not a punitive measure, but rather one officials hope will result in changes that will increase public safety and well being.

“If even a dozen people change their behaviors an because of our initiative, then it’s a success,” Yates said.



  1. And driving with a pet in your lap? What about reaching to turn my headlights or wipers on?

  2. martelle says:

    So what can we as citizens do when we see cops textng and driving as many of us have seen

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