Teen commission recommends tough penalties for texting, driving - CBS46 News

Teen commission recommends tough penalties for texting and driving

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Alex Floyd wants to stop young people from dying on the road.

"Distracted driving is what's really killing these kids," Floyd said. "The biggest problem on the road is ignorance."

Floyd is a junior at Westminster High School in Atlanta and one of 22 young people selected to the governor's commission on teen driving.

The commission on Monday issued a report to lawmakers, calling cops to crack down on kids who text and drive, tougher penalties for teens who drive distracted and more education.

"Ignorance and not understanding the risks when you drink and drive, do drugs and drive or just talk on the phone and drive is really the biggest problem for teen accidents," Floyd said.

Evan Katz, a sophomore at Westminster, said smart phones have made our lives more efficient and more fun, but in some cases they have also made our lives more dangerous.

"The mobile phone itself is the enemy on the road for most people our age," Katz said. "It's taking over our lives. Our lifestyles are governed by what we do on our phones."

Eric Beeler, a senior at Centennial High School in Roswell who chaired the commission, said many young people have gotten the message not to drink and drive, but a lot of them do not understand how dangerous it is to text and drive.

"Your eyes aren't on the road, your hands aren't on the wheel and your mind is not even thinking about driving," Beeler said.

Car crashes are the biggest killers of teens in Georgia and the nation, according to the governor's Office of Highway Safety.

The commission believes distracted driving is a big reason for those tragedies.

The commission recommended that lawmakers reform and expand the state's Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program.

"We believe the ADAP program needs to be changed to the impaired driving awareness program so every student understands, no matter what he form of impairment it is, it's still detrimental to your driving," Beeler said.

The panel recommended more community service for teen offenders instead of higher fines.

That way, the burden of the punishment would fall more on the teens than the parents who largely pay the fines.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Highway Safety said it will produce public service announcements, warning young people of the dangers of texting and driving.

The commission will meet again in the fall.

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