The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office concluded a two-day distracted driving crackdown on Thursday with deputies issuing 61 citations and 28 warnings.

All of those distracted driving traffic stops were for phone use, said sheriff’s office spokesman Jay Baker.

The crackdown was tied to raising awareness of laws that prevent distracted driving, such as the hands-free law that went into effect last year, according to Baker. April is “Distracted Driver Awareness Month.”

The law prohibits use of cellphones except in a hands-free mode while driving.

Sheriff’s office officials believe the law is having a positive impact.

“In 2017 (before the law) we investigated 34 fatal accidents,” Baker said Friday in an email. “In 2018 (law took effect July 1) we investigated18 fatal accidents.” So far in 2019, the sheriff’s office has investigated one fatal accident, he said.

“According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in 2016 there were 25,215 crashes in the state of Georgia where ‘inattentive,’ ‘cell phone’ or ‘distracted’” was listed as a contributing factor, compared to 5,784 such crashes in 2006,” Baker said in a written statement.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has put out a list of tips to avoid distraction:

♦ If you’re expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and put the vehicle in park.

♦ Make a passenger your “designated texter.” Give them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.

♦ Use a cell phone holder and voice commands or bluetooth devices if calls must be made or answered♦ while driving.

♦ Put your cell phone in the trunk, glove compartment, back seat or somewhere else it cannot be reached to avoid temptation.

Motorists with questions about the Georgia’s hands-free law can visit www.headsupgeorgia.com for more information.

While the focused enforcement effort this week concentrated on distracted driving, deputies also issued 23 warnings and and 22 citations for speeding. Five people received warnings for not using seatbelts, while 12 people received citations. The operation also led to three arrests, two for driving without a license and one felony drug count.

Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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