Johns Creek teen Eric Beeler named to Governor’s Commission on Teen Driving

Group recommends tougher penalties for texting, phoning while driving

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Eric Beeler of Johns Creek has been selected for an all-teen board appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal that has recommended major changes to teenage driver education strategies.

Chief among them has been the request for harsher penalties for teenagers who break Georgia’s law banning motorists from sending text messages and using smartphones while on the road.

Members of the Governor’s Commission on Teen Driving have also asked lawmakers to ban handheld phone use for all Georgia drivers.

The 22-member commission, comprised of all teenagers, is administered through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and is the first of its kind in the United States.

The commission’s ultimate goal is to discover strategies that reduce the number of teen crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia’s highways. While preliminary data shows that the number of fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-olds declined in 2012, vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers in Georgia.

Board members also urged policymakers to consider updating the state’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program to reflect other factors that cause drivers to be impaired, such as sending text messages or using a smartphone while behind the wheel.

Board members recommended that driver’s education courses and permitting tests for Georgia drivers include a greater focus on the dangers of distracted driving and texting while driving.

Appointed by Deal in October, the commission has worked for five months to help the governor develop a statewide strategy for educating teen drivers on the risks and consequences associated with driving while distracted, texting while driving and driving while impaired by alcohol.

This article was published in the JCH March 28, 2013 edition