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Heads Up: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Using a phone in a car, texting while driving concept to show the dangers of distracted driving.

Georgia drivers are reminded to always pay attention when behind the wheel

In an effort to put the spotlight on how dangerous distracted driving is and send motorists a strong message that reckless driving will not be tolerated on our roadways, Georgia and other states across the nation are recognizing April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that distracted driving continues to be a deadly problem on roads and highways throughout the country and is one of the top causes of car accidents in Atlanta and other major U.S. cities.

According to the most recent national crash data available, over 3,000 people died in car wrecks involving a distracted driver in 2019, including 43 fatalities in Georgia. Nationwide, more than 420,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents.

Driving distractions typically cause slower reaction times and often result in the motorist making poor judgment calls. Common types of crashes caused by distracted drivers include:

  • Rear-end accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • High-speed crashes
  • Multiple vehicle accidents

Compared to other states, Georgia has a relatively low distracted driving crash rate with 5.4 fatalities per 10 billion motor vehicle miles traveled. That's according to a ValuePenguin report, which analyzed distracted driving crash data from 2015 to 2019.

Still, far too many people in Metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia are injured or die in preventable crashes due to the negligent actions of a distracted driver.

3 different types of distracted driving

Distracted driving is any activity that occupies or redirects a motorist's attention away from the task of driving. And while all distractions are considered dangerous, they can be grouped into broader categories.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks driver distractions down into three main types: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Visual distractions

Visual distractions are activities that cause the driver to take their eyes off the road ahead. For example, looking at a phone to read or send a text, even if it's just for a few moments, is a visual distraction. While many motorists incorrectly assume they can multi-task with their phones while driving, consider that the average person needs 5 seconds to read or send a text. That means if you're traveling at 55 mph, you're driving the whole length of a football field with your eyes off the road.

Manual distractions

Manual distractions happen when a driver takes their hands off the wheel or occupies their hands with something else, such as a cell phone. Without both hands on the wheel, a motorist may not be able to adjust their driving to avoid a collision due to changing traffic patterns, a vehicle braking in front, or a pedestrian attempting to cross the road.

Cognitive distractions

Cognitive distractions occur when a motorist's mind is not completely focused on the task of driving. Essentially, this can be anything that makes the driver think about something other than the road ahead. Common cognitive distractions include having strong emotions (anger, frustration, sadness, etc.), daydreaming, thinking about your job, going over a conversation in your head, chatting with passengers, or having a discussion on the phone.

Texting is the most dangerous

Keep in mind that texting and driving is one of the few forms of distracted driving that fall under all three categories of distraction. In order to read or send a text, you need to hold your phone (manual), look at it (visual), and think about what you're reading or going to send (cognitive).

Like other states, Georgia has banned the use of handheld cell phones for all drivers and made it a primary traffic offense. That means a police officer can stop a driver and issue a citation solely because they're texting or otherwise using a cell phone.

Exceptions include emergencies, such as calling 911 to report a motor vehicle accident, fire, crime, or medical emergency; first responders (e.g., law enforcement, firefighters); and public utility workers or contractors who need to report an emergency.

Talk to a car accident lawyer if you've been injured

Even if you practice safe driving habits and always remember to avoid distractions, you can't predict what other people are going to do when they're driving. It only takes one negligent driver to cause a crash that leaves you injured, in pain, and searching for answers.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a Metro Atlanta crash caused by another driver, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering). The problem is insurance companies have a financial incentive to pay you as little money as possible, and you can be sure that they will do everything in their power to do just that.

That's why you need an experienced car accident lawyer to deal with the insurance company, look out for your best interests, and aggressively advocate for the compensation you deserve.

To learn more about your legal rights and options, schedule a free consultation with an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney. Your consultation is free, there are no obligations, and everything you tell us will remain confidential.

Let us give you the help you need. We have six offices in Georgia, including Duluth, Atlanta, Lithonia, College Park, Gainesville, and Marietta. We'll also come to you if you can't come to us. Contact us today.

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