Atlanta Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Distracted driving has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, and with good reason. Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of car accidents on Atlanta roads and highways, and it is one of the most dangerous types of negligent activities a driver can engage in. According to the most recent data from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, 56% of all motor vehicle crashes in 2019 had at least one confirmed or suspected distracted driver. Distraction was also confirmed in three percent of fatal crashes that year and was suspected or confirmed in 46% of serious injury crashes. The actual numbers are likely higher, as it is not always possible to determine whether a driver’s distraction was the cause of a crash.
In the age of mobile technology, we are all trying our best to stay connected at all hours of the day. When traffic causes the commute to work to last an hour (or more!), what else is there to do but use the time to put on your makeup, eat your breakfast, check your phone, or even live-stream the news on your smartphone, right? Wrong.
Every day we can look at the car next to us and see people taking Snapchats or posting Instagram story videos. A quick glaze through Facebook shows multiple videos clearly taken while driving. We all do it, taking the attitude that we won’t be the one to cause a wreck and that we won’t be hurt by someone else driving distracted. But, police across the state of Georgia are cracking down on distracted driving, hopefully stopping this dangerous activity before it becomes deadly.
As drivers though, it can be tough to know what we can and can’t do when we’re behind the wheel. Georgia has several laws that set out parameters for us to follow to keep ourselves and others safe (and make sure we don’t get tickets!).
There’s no mistaking that distracted driving is negligent driving, and drivers who cause a crash due to inattention are liable to the accident victims for the injuries and harm they have caused. At Shiver Hamilton Campbell, our Atlanta distracted driving accident lawyers take on the most serious and catastrophic fatal and non-fatal car accident cases. We use our knowledge, skills and resources to hold distracted drivers accountable and obtain significant compensation for the accident victims. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a distracted driving accident in metro Atlanta, or if you are an attorney looking for a law firm to co-counsel or refer your serious accident case to, call Shiver Hamilton Campbell at 404-593-0020 for a free consultation.
It can be confusing to navigate the restrictions on cell phone use while driving in Georgia. First, there are different restrictions for children and adult drivers. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to talk, text, or even listen on wireless devices, which include cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. Adults can do slightly more. Talking and listening are fine, but it is against the law to “write, send, or read any text-based communication.” What in the world does that mean? In short, you cannot read, write or send a text, e-mail, or do anything on the internet. That means voice texting is not allowed either – you would be writing and sending a text-based communication. And the excuse “I’m not texting, I’m just looking at the internet,” is no good under Georgia law.
But it’s fine if I’m stopped at a red light, right? Or a stop sign? Think again! It is easy to think that because you are stopped, it is just fine to text. But the law says differently. Only when your vehicle is “lawfully parked” is it acceptable to text, e-mail, use the internet, and carry out all of the electronic communication that has come to define our daily lives. So, yes, you are breaking the law when you text at that red light, and yes, you could get pulled over.
And what about all the new ways to use our phones? Live streaming, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Instagram stories, and the like are all prohibited under Georgia law while you are driving. So the bottom line with using a cell phone (or other electronic device) while you drive is to simply put the device away.
Unfortunately, cell phones and technology are not the only distractions facing drivers today. When the police in Columbus, Georgia, set up shop to pull over distracted drivers, they found all sorts of dangerous driving behaviors from reading a letter balanced on the steering wheel to applying makeup while driving. A driver has even been pulled over for eating a cheeseburger while driving. What it boils down to is if you are doing something that takes away from your ability to drive, you can be ticketed.
In Georgia, drivers must “exercise due care” and cannot engage in any activities that would distract them from safely operating their vehicles. So putting on makeup while you drive is not only dangerous, it is potentially illegal. And yes, if you are eating your lunch while driving and it affects your driving ability, that could be illegal too.
Georgia’s Hands-Free Law
As smartphones became more widely adopted, and the number of different ways they could be used increased, the number of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths increased dramatically. The types of crashes that were happening were the kinds caused most often by driver inattention. When states passed hands-free driving laws, the number of traffic deaths started to go down. Georgia lawmakers paid heed to these trends and enacted the Hands Free Law, which went into effect in 2018. Georgia’s law is one of the strictest in the country. It includes the following features:
- Drivers cannot hold their phone or use their phone while it is touching their body in any way, except they can touch it to receive or end a call. Hands-free calls are allowed.
- Drivers cannot read, write or send text messages, access e-mails or social media content, engage in instant messaging, browse the web or otherwise utilize internet data while on the road. GPS navigation is allowed.
- Drivers can send or receive text messages only while lawfully parked or via voice-to-text technology that reads the message or converts the driver’s speech to text.
- Headsets and earpieces can only be used for talking on the phone. Drivers cannot listen to music or podcasts through their earbuds.
- Drivers cannot watch a video except for navigation. Taking calls via Facetime or Skype is not allowed.
- Drivers cannot record a video on their phones.
- Music streaming is only allowed if activated while parked. Drivers cannot physically interact with a music app while driving. Streaming video is not allowed, even if the driver is only listening and not watching.
- Exceptions exist for making emergency calls and for first responders. Special rules and restrictions apply to school bus drivers and commercial truck drivers.
- Although drivers can physically interact with their phones while parked, the law is clear that this exception does not include being stopped at a stop sign or red light.
Violating the Hands Free Law can subject the driver to fines and points on their driver’s license. If the driver causes a crash, evidence of texting while driving can be used as evidence of negligence to hold them liable for any injuries they caused in the accident.
Distracted Driving Is More Than Texting While Driving
Distracted driving took on many forms before there were cell phones, and these forms are still with us today. Reading, eating, putting on makeup, shaving, dressing, smoking, fiddling with the radio or climate controls, daydreaming, fixing your hair or grooming are all potentially distracting activities. Even getting too involved in a conversation with passengers can take one’s attention off the vital task of driving and lead to an accident.
Safety researchers group distractions into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off the road, manual distractions take the driver’s hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take the driver’s attention away from driving. Some activities involve two or even all three types of distractions. The more distractions that are involved, the more likely it is the driver will cause a crash.
Get Experienced and Dedicated Help After a Metro Atlanta Distracted Driving Accident
It may be tempting to look at your phone and read or send a quick text while driving, but Georgia’s Hands Free Law and plain old common sense tell us otherwise. By now, we all know better than to use our phones while driving or engage in other dangerous, distracting behavior. Distracted drivers can and should be held accountable to accident victims for the damage they cause. This is what we do at Shiver Hamilton Campbell, all day, every day.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a distracted driving car accident in metro Atlanta, call Shiver Hamilton Campbell for a free consultation at 404-593-0020. We take on cases involving the most serious catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, and we fight to secure significant compensation for our clients who were hurt because of another’s negligence or wrongful conduct.