It’s quite ironic how big of a problem distracted driving is in 2023. Everyone agrees it’s bad, yet almost 80% of people on the road admit to shifting attention away from driving for various reasons.
So seeing as April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, I’d like to do my part to address the issue. Let’s talk about distracted driving accidents, how to prevent them, and what to do if you’ve been in them. The car accident attorneys at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm are here to answer all of your legal questions and help you get the justice you deserve if you were hurt by a distracted driver.
What is Distracted Driving?
Any activity that diverts your attention from safely operating the vehicle potentially counts as distracted driving. Under this umbrella is gadget/device use, eating, drinking, grooming, conversation, etc.
Georgia does not have a law specifically targeting each of these activities (besides technology use, addressed by the Hands-Free Law). However, Georgia Law does state that a driver “shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver” from the primary task of driving.
Some argue that this wording needs to be more specific to address all instances of distracted driving. On the other hand, the openness to interpretation has allowed police to pull drivers over for activities they see as distracting… such as eating a cheeseburger.
The rule of thumb: In Georgia, anything that takes your hands off the wheel and/or your eyes off the road is distracted driving. Just don’t do that.
How Many Crashes a Year Are Due to Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2021, 3,522 people were killed in distracted driving accidents. This number is up from 2020 when 3,142 people died in accidents involving distracted drivers.
In Georgia, distracted driving remains a growing problem. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 1,549 crashes in 2019 were attributed to distracted driving, resulting in 18 fatalities and 685 injuries.
These numbers show the need for increased efforts to prevent distracted driving in the state.
Does Our State Do Enough to Prevent Distracted Driving?
While distracted driving is still a common cause of accidents, Georgia has taken steps to prevent it. As mentioned, in 2018, Georgia passed a Hands-Free Law banning the use of handheld phones and other gadgets while driving.
Unfortunately, state law does not explicitly define what activities constitute distracted driving. That said, it is within the jurisdiction of traffic enforcement to interpret any act as distracted driving, depending on the case.
Georgia can do more to prevent distracted driving by implementing stricter penalties for violators. Potential strategies include public awareness campaigns and investing in new technologies that can detect distracted driving.
Such measures can help to make the roads safer and reduce the frequency of distracted driving accidents.
If a driver has injured you and you want to know if their actions fall under distracted driving, call us at (833) 254-2923. CEO Lawyer will examine your case and determine the best legal course of action.
How to Limit Distractions While Driving
Put your phone away
One of the most significant distractions while driving is using your phone, and as such, it is the most explicitly tackled form of distracted driving in Georgia.
You are not allowed to read text-based communication on the road. Any communication you make has to be in the form of phone calls and exclusively with hands-free functionality.
Note that “hands-free” does not exclusively mean “do not use your hands.” You legally cannot support your phone with any body part while driving.
Put your phone away where you cannot reach it, such as in the glove compartment or back seat. If you must use your phone for any of the exceptional use cases defined in the Hands-free law, pull over and practice safety before doing so.
Set your GPS before you start driving
GPS navigation is an exception to the Hands-Free law. But that does not mean you shouldn’t take precautions when using it.
If you use a navigation system, set your destination before driving. This prevents the risk of having to use your hands for tasks besides driving.
As with phone use, you should pull over at a safe location if adjusting your GPS device (which also holds if your phone IS your GPS device). Remember: while navigation is an exempt use case to the Hands-Free Law, you can still violate Georgia’s uniform rules of the road.
If, for example, you are driving and an accident occurs while you had your eyes on the GPS, you may not have violated the Hands-Free Law. However, an injured party might claim you were engaged in an action that distracted you from safely operating your car.
Avoid eating and drinking
Earlier, I mentioned how Cobb County police pulled over a man for eating a cheeseburger while driving. You’ll probably be happy to know that the charges against the man were dropped in February 2015. Still, eating and drinking while driving can indeed be distracting.
No one got hurt in the 2015 cheeseburger traffic stop. But it’s easy enough to argue that if an accident had occurred because the driver had a hand off the wheel, it would have been an entirely different story.
Just to be safe, finish your food before driving. Or better yet, avoid crumbs and spills and finish your meal before getting in the car at all.
Secure loose items
Loose items in your car can easily become projectiles in an accident, causing injury or damage. This is doubly dangerous on the highway, where items on the dashboard can pull your attention away from the road as they shift around, causing the accident in the first place.
Secure loose items so they do not distract you while driving. Place small objects in your compartments and secure large items so they do not move.
Keep your focus on the road
Above all, remember that driving requires all your focus. While you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for your life, the lives of your passengers, and, potentially, the lives of others outside the vehicle.
A momentary lapse in attention can be disastrous for any and all people involved. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid distractions.
What Should You Do When Injured by a Distracted Driver?
If a distracted driver has injured you, the first thing to do is seek immediate medical attention. An immediate assessment by a medical practitioner both ensures your health and provides valuable information for any legal proceedings to follow.
Second, contact a personal injury attorney to guide you through potential legal action. Experienced lawyers serve as representation when dealing with the courts, insurance companies, and the driver themselves to make sure things go in your favor.
If unsure of your options, call the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm at (833) 254-2923. Our team of personal injury attorneys will be happy to work with you and ensure you are compensated for your injuries and losses.
What Should You Do If You’ve Injured Someone by Distracted Driving?
If you have injured someone, especially while driving, the first step is to ensure that the injured person receives medical attention. Call 911 immediately and stay with the victim until help arrives.
Next, contact a personal injury attorney for legal advice. Understand that depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be liable for the victim’s damages.
You will want to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Doing so can help you understand your legal options when dealing with the victim and fallout.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? The CEO Lawyer Can Help
Need help claiming damages after being injured by a distracted driver? Call the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm today, and we’ll determine your options. We only get paid if we win your case, so you have nothing to lose. Call (833) 254-2923 or fill out this form today.