Dad says texting & driving bill isn't enough on anniversary of son's death

Neal Ardman lost his son Austin in 2015 after he was struck and killed by a driver who was texting and driving.

Just weeks before Christmas on Dec. 8, 2015, 20-year-old Austin Ardman went out for a run, but he never made it back home.

"Two years ago tomorrow, my son, Austin was killed by a texting driver," said Neal Ardman of Camden County.

Austin Ardman, a Blinn College sophomore in College Station, Texas was studying to become an engineer. 
     
He was struck by a 21-year-old student who looked down at her phone while driving.

"She admitted it to the College Station police that she answered her text on her phone," Neal Ardman said.

Neal Ardman, a father of six, said he gets chills down his spine when he sees drivers on the road who also text and drive.

"It has become pervasive,' he said. "Everywhere you look, every da, you can't drive down the road without somebody texting next to you or in front of you. The accidents are going crazy."

Reports estimate that distracted drivers caused nearly 50,000 crashes in the state of Florida alone. In 2016, 233 people died from distracted driving.

"Kids they think they're invincible and so do adults," Neal Ardman added.

Ardman lives in St. Mary's, Georgia. The Peach State reports seeing an increase in deadly distracted driving crashes.

Thousands die on Georgia roadways every year due to distracted driving even though the state banned texting and driving in 2010. 

In Florida, texting and driving is a secondary offense, which means police can't pull you over for it. However, state legislators are working to change that. 

On Wednesday, House Bill 33 was introduced in the house to allow police to pull over and ticket drivers who are caught texting while driving. However, many wonder how officers are going to enforce the law if it's passed.

Georgia has had a tough go at it. Reports show police currently have a hard time discerning if a driver is texting or checking their GPS for directions, which isn't illegal. 

Neal Ardman said new laws can only do so much. Figuring out how to enforce them is key. As a result, he's calling out cellphone carriers and manufacturers to help out.

"It's so interesting to me that you can't control the navigation in your car when you're moving, but you can control the navigation on your iPhone while you're moving," he said. "Apple and AT&T, and Verizon, they all know you're moving. That phone has a GPS chip in it. It knows how fast you're going. They have the ability to shut that down and they haven't."

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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