April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the United States. The initiative is championed by the National Safety Council, which estimates that – conservatively – at least eight people a day are killed in distracted driving crashes.
But do you know the definition of distracted driving? The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as:
“...any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
Distracted driving isn’t just risky for the driver it, as it is potentially deadly for every nearby driver, pedestrian, bicyclist and worker. And it could be costly for the driver’s employer if the accident occurred while working.
Let’s discuss how distracted driving impacts road safety, and ways drivers in North Georgia and throughout the state can avoid these unlawful habits so that everyone reaches their destinations in one piece.
Distracted Driving Facts & Stats
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) distracted driving facts are alarming and concern everyone, no matter how short your drive may be or whether you’re a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. Some distracted driving facts from GDOT include:
- GDOT confirmed 16,238 crashes were caused by distracted driving in 2021, 68 of which were fatal.
- Distracted driving was suspected in many more accidents in the same year, with nearly 151,622 crashes – 469 of which were fatal.
- Young drivers in Georgia pose the highest risk for distracted driving crashes. In 2019, drivers aged 25-to-34 years received more distracted driving citations after a crash, more distracted driving convictions, and were more involved in distraction-related motor vehicle crashes compared to any other age group.
- The NHTSA advises that drivers should never take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds at a time. As a spokesman for the Auto Alliance, a manufacturers’ trade
group, told the New York Times in 2018: “The odds of a crash double if your eyes are off the road for more than two seconds.”
Know The Law About Cell Phone Use and In-Vehicle Tech
Georgia has had a Hands-Free law since 2018, yet we still see drivers whose eyes are on their phones or elsewhere instead of the road ahead of them – whether they are at a red light or zipping through Interstate 20 near the Metro-Atlanta area. It is understandably frustrating. Some key points of Georgia’s hands-free law include:
- Drivers cannot have 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. (Voice-to-text is allowed)
- Drivers cannot watch videos when they are on the road. (Navigational/GPS videos are allowed)
The easiest ways to drive attentively are to program your phone and electronics before you start and limit the ability to interact with them while you’re driving. For example, Apple’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” cellphone blocker has been included in iPhone software updates since iOS 11 was released in 2017. Several other phone manufacturers have similar features available.
Ultimately, it is better to pull over where it is safe to park, and then take a call or check a map.
Various Distractions Cause Motor Vehicle Accidents
As mentioned above, handheld devices are not the only distractions. Others include:
- Adjusting a radio or in-vehicle tech
- Eating and drinking
- Interacting with passengers.
Pritchard Injury Firm has represented clients whose high-value injury or wrongful death claims arose from each of the aforementioned distractions.
How You Can Reduce Distracted Driving
All drivers, as well as employers, parents, and civic leaders, could help keep roads safer and prevent distracted driving by:
- Allocating time and modest resources for “lunch and learn” sessions.
- Having employees and insureds sign “safe driving commitment” letters.
- Encouraging defensive driving courses – online and in-person.
- Spread awareness of the dangers by sharing infographics like the one below on social media (not off the road, of course).
Furthermore, law enforcement is cracking down on distracted driving, as it is one of the key emphasis areas of Georgia’s 2022-2024 Governor’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Be safe and be sure to promote #DistractedDrivingAwareness in April and year-round.
Contact Pritchard Injury Firm Following an Accident
If you have suffered bodily or physical injury due to distracted driving, have your injury lawyer review your own personal insurance policy to determine if you can file a personal insurance claim against another person or driver. You need to support your claim and gather all evidence, pictures, and documentation about the incident.
With a lawyer on your side, you level the playing field and have someone fighting solely for what you deserve, which is complete and fair compensation for your injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, don't just settle. At Pritchard Injury Firm, we have the knowledge and experience to fight for the results you deserve. Contact us online or give us a call today at (470) 577-8152.