Stay focused, Georgia: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
In Georgia, texting while driving is illegal, as is the use of mobile phones by teenage drivers behind the wheel. Nevertheless, distracted driving accidents continue to occur at an alarming rate in communities throughout the state, including Atlanta.
In one recent year, the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety reported 47% of crashes in the state were related to distractions. Out of 603,948 drivers involved in a crash that year, 2% were confirmed as being distracted, and 45% were suspected of being distracted.
Make no mistake about it: distracted driving puts everyone on the road at risk of severe injury or death, often resulting in serious car accidents, even when drivers take their eyes off the road for just a split second.
During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, drivers are reminded to prioritize safety and avoid all distractions while operating a motor vehicle. This means refraining from using electronic devices, adjusting the radio, eating or drinking, or engaging in any other activity that diverts attention from the road.
Common forms of distraction
Driving requires constant focus and attention, but too many motorists engage in distracting behaviors that increase the risk of accidents. There are four types of distractions while driving: visual, manual, cognitive, and auditory. Each type of distraction can impair a driver's ability to react to potential hazards on the road. Here's a breakdown of the four types of distractions and examples of each:
- Visual distractions take the driver's eyes off the road. Examples include looking at billboards, scenery or using a mobile device.
- Manual distractions involve taking the hands off the steering wheel. Examples include eating, drinking, self-grooming, using a cellphone, or reaching for objects.
- Cognitive distractions are distractions that take the driver's mind off the task of driving. Examples include daydreaming, worrying, or talking on the phone.
- Auditory distractions are caused by sounds within or outside the vehicle. Examples include loud music, traffic noise, or passenger conversations.
Texting while driving is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, encompassing three types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.
The dangerous combination of taking your eyes off the road, using your hands to text, and diverting your attention from the task of driving can cause significant consequences. Drivers who text while driving may experience delayed reaction times, reduced situational awareness, and impaired decision-making abilities, which can increase the likelihood of an accident.
Remember, at 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
What is Georgia's hands-free law?
The Hands-Free Georgia Act, which went into effect on July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from having a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on their phone while driving.
Even with hands-free technology, drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content, and other internet data while on the road, but voice-to-text is allowed.
Similarly, drivers cannot watch videos while driving and they cannot use their phones or electronic devices to record video while driving. However, continuously running dashcams are allowed, as are GPS systems.
The law does permit drivers to listen to streaming music that does not include videos on their phone or device while driving, but they cannot touch their phones while on the road to activate or program any music streaming app.
Streaming music that is controlled by and listened to through the vehicle's radio is allowed. However, if drivers need to touch their phones to activate or program their music streaming apps, they must do so before getting on the road.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act includes subsections that cover different aspects of distracted driving. For example, a school bus driver cannot use or operate a wireless telecommunications device while loading or unloading passengers or while the bus is in motion unless it is being used as a two-way radio to allow live communication between the driver and school officials or public safety officials.
The law defines a wireless telecommunications device as a cellular telephone, a portable telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a global positioning system receiver, or a substantially similar portable wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication, information, or data.
Penalties for breaking the hands-free law
If a driver violates the Hands-Free Georgia Act, they will face a penalty that includes a fine and points assessed against their driver's license. For a first offense, the fine is $50, and one point is assessed against the driver's license.
For a second offense within 24 months of the first, the fine increases to $100, and two points are assessed.
For three or more offenses within 24 months of the first, the fine is $150, and three points are assessed.
Atlanta car accident lawyers holding distracted drivers accountable
If you or a loved one was injured in an Atlanta car accident caused by a distracted driver, it's important to hold them accountable. However, proving that the driver was distracted or on their phone at the time of the crash can be challenging.
That's where the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. comes in. Our experienced car accident lawyers have the knowledge and experience to handle even the most complex cases.
We are here to help. Call 1-800-898-HAYS or contact us online now for a free consultation to take the first step towards recovering the financial compensation you deserve.