April has been named Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and law enforcement agencies in every state are doing their part to raise awareness by increasing enforcement efforts to catch distracted drivers. In Georgia, the Georgia State Patrol and other state agencies will be cracking down on this risky behavior all month long.
Distracted driving is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. and is a leading cause of auto accidents that result in serious injury or death. Our dedicated Savannah auto accident lawyers believe raising awareness is an effective method to ending distracted driving, and will fight to help victims affected by negligent drivers.
What is Distracted Driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving refers to any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, this includes the driver’s eyes, hands or mental focus.
While texting and driving are the most well-known examples of distracted driving, there are many others, including:
- Talking on the phone
- Talking to passengers, particularly if it is an argument or heated exchange
- Putting on makeup
- Combing your hair
- Adjusting settings on your entertainment system
- Using GPS systems
- Reaching for something in your vehicle
- Watching a pet who is not secured in a kennel or portable cage
GEORGIA LAWS ON DISTRACTED DRIVING
Under Georgia Code § 40-6-241.2, it is illegal to write, read or send text messages while driving, including when drivers are stopped at traffic lights or signals. This law took effect on July 1, 2010.
The law also prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using any wireless telecommunications device while driving. This includes cell phones, personal digital assistants, and any other small wireless devices.
However, the law allows drivers of all ages to use cellphones and other wireless communication devices for:
- Reporting a traffic accident, fire, medical emergency, severe road hazard or situation where the driver reasonably believes someone’s health or safety is in danger
- Reporting a potential crime
The law also does not apply if you are using a telecommunications device in a vehicle that is legally parked.
This is a primary law, so police officers are allowed to pull you over for texting and driving without witnessing another traffic violation. The penalty for violating this code is a $150 fine.
DISTRACTED DRIVING STATISTICS
Distracted driving has become a rapidly-growing threat to traffic safety in Georgia and throughout the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has addressed the issue by releasing guidelines for electronic device manufacturers to decrease prodcuts’ distracting effects on drivers.
Distracted driving caused 5,784 crashes in Georgia in 2006 and 25,215 wrecks last year, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
This behavior is also one of the major culprits in the increase in traffic fatalities in the last two years, according to GHSA Director Harris Blackwood.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that traffic fatalities in Georgia rose 34 percent between 2014 and 2016, the fifth-largest increase in the nation.
Nationally, distracted driving led to 3,179 deaths in 2014 and 3,477 in 2015, a year-over-year increase of almost nine percent. Distracted driving also led to 391,000 injuries last year.
PREVENT DISTRACTED DRIVING
While nearly everyone drives distracted at some point, the practice is entirely preventable. These strategies can help reduce or eliminate distractions:
- Avoid using your cell phone in the car unless it is an emergency, and if an emergency arises, try to pull off to the shoulder or another safe location before making a call or sending a text.
- Manage your time so you can eat or drink before you get behind the wheel, or wait until you arrive at your destination to eat or drink.
- Travel with fewer passengers, and keep activity in the vehicle at a minimum. This is particularly important for teenage drivers because they are inexperienced and will be tempted to focus more on their friends than the road.
- Make calls or send texts before you get into the car.
- Ask your passengers to answer the phone or respond to texts or messages for you.
- Make sure children are buckled up before you hit the road.
- Set your GPS before you start driving.
- Turn off your phone or switch it to silent.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The Nye Law Group’s personal injury attorneys in Savannah will work to hold distracted drivers accountable for their actions while pursuing fair compensation for damages.
Call 855-856-4212 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form today.