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Has Georgia's hands-free law curbed distracted driving?

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According to Bloomberg, motorists still drive distracted despite laws prohibiting it. In most cases, law enforcement isn’t available to stop drivers from glancing away from the road.

In the Bloomberg article, a retired Atlanta executive recalls an incident involving distracted driving that still leaves him haunted to this day. The man says that he “broke his personal no-phones-at-the-wheel policy,” and unknowingly passed a stopped school bus and nearly struck two grade-school students trying to cross the street.

“I slammed on the brakes, looked back in the rear-view mirror,” he told Bloomberg.

Even for drivers who aren’t typically distracted behind the wheel, it only takes one time to result in a devastating crash. While we never truly know how many distracted drivers are within our proximity, a new tech startup has found just how many drivers are distracted by cellphones.

A tech startup determines just how many drivers are distracted

In exchange for insurance incentives and other rewards, TrueMotion Inc., a smartphone driving platform, asked roughly 30,000 motorists to have their phone usage tracked while driving.

According to the data collected by TrueMotion Inc., here are the most accurate figures of how many distracted drivers are on the road for every 100 drivers:

  • 30 drivers were found to be distracted less than 5% of the time
  • 20 drivers were found to be distracted 5-10% of the time
  • 15 drivers were found to be distracted 10-15% of the time
  • 10 drivers were found to be distracted 15-20% of the time
  • 7 drivers were found to be distracted 20-25% of the time
  • 5 drivers were found to be distracted 25-30% of the time
  • 3 drivers were found to be distracted 30-35% of the time
  • 2 drivers were found to be distracted 35-40% of the time
  • 1 driver was found to be distracted 40-45% of the time
  • 1 driver was found to be distracted 45-50% of the time

TrueMotion also tracked the habits of drivers in New York and Los Angeles and found that drivers tend to be more distracted during the summer than any other time of year. During holidays, drivers text and drive 30 percent more often than they do most other days of the year. On weekends, texting and driving tend to go up about 9.1 percent.

What distracted driving data was tracked?

The data tracked includes:

  • Texting and app usage (not including calls) – 5% in New York, 5% in Los Angeles
  • Hands-free app usage (not including calls) – 8% in New York, 13% in Los Angeles
  • Phone calls made while holding a cellphone – 1% in New York, 1% in Los Angeles
  • Phone calls made on hands-free devices – 8% in New York, 6% in Los Angeles
  • No distraction at all – 76% in New York, 74% in Los Angeles

TrueMotion was founded in 2013. The company uses several sensors built into smartphones to track how phones are moved or handled by drivers. The sensors allow them to determine whether a driver is texting, making a phone call, quickly checking a notification, or using a cellphone that is mounted.

The impact of hands-free laws

The hands-free law asserts that drivers are prohibited from touching their cellphones while driving. They can make calls and talk on their cellphones, but those tasks can only be done through hands-free devices.

In addition, drivers are prohibited from:

  • Typing, reading, and sending text-based communication
  • Using social media and browsing the internet
  • Watching/taking videos and pictures
  • Streaming music with videos displayed on the screen

Penalties for violating the hands-free law include:

  • 1st offense: $50 fine and 1 point assessed against driver's license
  • 2nd offense: $100 and 2 points assessed against driver's license
  • 3rd or subsequent offense: $150 and 3 points assessed against driver's license

Get a Georgia car accident lawyer

In Georgia, a study involving between 20,000-25,000 drivers using TrueMotion found that the rate of distracted driving fell by 20 percent since the passage of the hands-free law in 2018.

Nationally, cellphone use among drivers during daylight hours has declined from 5.2 percent in 2012 to 3.2 percent in 2018, according to the National Safety Council.

Not all crashes caused by distracted driving involve cellphones, however. Drivers can be distracted just by talking to passengers, eating, drinking, multitasking, or engaging in any other activity that takes their attention away from the road. Since many incidents involving distracted driving don't leave behind any physical evidence, the number of distracted drivers on the road at any given time could be much greater.

Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash with an inattentive driver, the Atlanta car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can help you explore your legal options. Don't hesitate to contact us online or call us at 1-800-898-HAYS.

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