- Texting while driving is negligent because of the visual, manual, and cognitive attention it requires.
- Georgia law prohibits texting and driving and other forms of electronic distraction behind the wheel.
- You can prove a crash may have been the result of texting and driving through a subpoena of the at-fault driver’s cell phone records, including call and data logs.
Georgia law prohibits texting while driving
In Georgia it is illegal for any driver to write, send or read a text message while driving. O.C.G.A. 40-6-241. This also includes looking at the internet, watching videos, or any other electronic communication. It is no excuse for a driver to claim that he or she was only quickly “checking the internet.” If you were hit by a driver who was texting or using the internet, you may have negligence claim based on distracted driving. While Georgia has not yet officially declared that texting while driving allows a victim to claim punitive damages, we feel strongly that texting and driving is both careless and reckless. A texting driver covers about 100 yards without watching the road. Don’t let them get away with it.
Georgia is a Hands-Free Law state
On July 1, 2018 the State of Georgia enacted a Hands-Free Law making it illegal to hold a cell phone in your hand while operating a car or truck. This includes holding a phone in your hand while stopped at a traffic light. Not only can a driver not have a phone in their hand, a driver may not support a phone with any part of his or her body. A driver may only use their phone to make or receive calls using a speakerphone, headset, or when the phone is connected to the car. The law does, however, allow a driver to use a GPS device.
Consequences for Drivers Who Cause an Accident While Texting and Driving in Georgia
In the State of Georgia, drivers who cause an accident while texting and driving may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. This is known as a distracted driving accident. The at-fault driver could be ticketed for using an electronic device while driving a car or truck. Under Georgia Code Section 40-6-241.2 drivers may not use a wireless device such as a cell phone to write or read text messages while operating a motor vehicle, unless it is to report an accident or other emergency. A driver who is found to have driven recklessly while texting or using hand-held electronics could even be arrested or charged with vehicular homicide if the accident resulted in a fatal collision. An at-fault distracted driver also could face additional civil damages, such as an award of punitive damages in a personal injury case based upon aggravated negligence in operating a car or truck while distracted.
Texting while driving in Georgia is negligent and dangerous driving. Because drivers may not send, write or read text messages, use social media or watch videos or movies while driving, if you have been hit by a driver who was doing any of these things, you may be able to file a negligence claim or lawsuit, regardless of whether the driver who caused the crash was charged or cited with a ticket or other criminal charge.
How do I prove that the driver that hit me was texting?
When texting drivers cause accidents that injure and kill others they often deny cell phone use and texting. Our attorneys can counter a driver’s false denials by doing the following to establish your case:
- Subpoena the driver’s cell phone records.
- Send a preservation of evidence letter to the at-fault driver and their insurance company for the cell phone and its data.
- Requesting and obtaining video from the intersection or nearby businesses security cameras.
- Interview or subpoena all witnesses. Someone may have seen the at-fault driver texting or looking down before and at the time of the accident.
- Examining or inspecting the other driver’s car or truck to try to find out what they were doing at the time of the crash.
- Downloading electronic data from the at-fault car. Failure to hit the brakes or lack of steering avoidance may indicate distracted driving.
- Taking a deposition under oath of the other driver.
- Use the call and data log to prove that the driver was using the phone.
- Discover all cell phones in the driver’s household and get the records and bills.
What are the cell phone and texting rules for Commercial Vehicles and School Bus Drivers?
Drivers of commercial vehicles may only use one button to start or hang-up a phone call. Drivers may not reach for a wireless communication device if it requires the driver to no longer be seated in a safe position or properly restrained by a seat belt. O.C.G.A. 40-6-241. School Bus drivers cannot use a cell phone or a two-way radio while loading or unloading passengers. School bus drivers may only use a two-way radio while driving to communicate with school and public safety officers and officials.
Why is texting while operating a motor vehicle so dangerous?
Texting and driving is almost always negligent. We have all seen drivers in the lane next to us at a traffic light or even on the highway reading or sending texts. Some of them are even sending Snapchats or posting to Facebook or Instagram. Shockingly, some of us may have even seen pictures posted online that were obviously taken by a person while driving. Unfortunately, this behavior is a major cause of accidents. The NHTSA says that in 2018 distracted driving killed 2,841 people in the United States.
Because a driver’s eyes are off the road, texting while driving can have severe and serious consequences. Texting puts your passengers, other drivers and their passengers and pedestrians at risk of injury or death. Texting is considered both a visual and cognitive distraction. Not only are a driver’s eyes off the road, the texting driver’s attention to the road is disturbed.
Texting can take a driver’s attention off the road for five to ten seconds, or longer. In just five seconds, a driver going 55 miles per hour can travel the distance of a football field. Sending or reading a text while operating a car or truck increases the chance of being in a crash over 23 times. Texting is thought to be more dangerous than driving drunk, as texting causes approximately 1.6 million crashes and injures over 300,000 people each year.
According to the NHTSA is the most alarming type of distraction because it requires the visual, manual, and cognitive attention of the driver, the NHTSA says. A car or truck traveling at highway speeds can be covering nearly 100 feet per second. This means that a car or tuck being driven texting driver is like an unguided missile hurtling down the road.
Georgia Car Accidents Caused by Texting While Driving
Driving and texting includes not just writing and sending text messages. It also includes receiving or reading a text message via a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. It is arguably the most dangerous form of distracted driving that is widely engaged in today and may be responsible for 25% of all car accidents today.
Texting causes accidents by distracting the driver and decreasing his or her reaction time. Studies show that a driver distracted by texting — on average — takes 20 percent longer to hit the brakes. This is long enough to be the cause of many catastrophic collisions, because some texting drivers may never see the accident coming until the crash. The lack of braking or avoidance often leads to much more severe accidents, including fatal collisions.
Texting tops the NHTSA’s list of dangerous driver distractions, because of the visual, manual, and cognitive attention it requires. Distraction.gov offers these texting-while-driving statistics:
- Well over two hundred billion text messages are sent each month in the United States.
- At just about any moment, approximately 660,000 U.S. drivers are on their cell phones or using an electronic gadget and driving.
- Sending or reading a message is equivalent to driving the length of a football field, blind.
- The risk of a crash increases by 23 times while a driver is texting.
- More than 25 % of teens admitted they respond to one or more texts each time they drive – the actual numbers are probably much higher.
- Over 20% percent of teens and 10 % of moms and dads regularly have back and forth texting sessions while driving.
- Young drivers (in their 20s and younger) account for approximately 27% of fatal crashes from distracted driving.
Georgia lawmakers recognize how dangerous texting while driving is. Current law includes these prohibitions:
- Text messaging while driving is illegal for all drivers.
- Drivers under 18 years old are banned from using cell phones in any way while driving.
- It is illegal for drivers of School buses, except in an emergency, to use a mobile telephone while operating their bus.
Unfortunately, the Atlanta Journal has reported that even years after the Georgia law banning texting behind the wheel became effective, very few people had been convicted. Law enforcement officials say the law is difficult to enforce because they have to determine that someone was texting at the wheel, and not merely dialing a number or talking on a cell phone.
Though it may be difficult to make an arrest for texting behind the wheel, cell phone records subpoenaed for a crash investigation would show the timing of a text being sent or received and whether it coincided with the moment a car accident happened.
Exceptions to the Georgia Hands-Free Law
Exceptions to Georgia’s hands-free cell phone use law include: reporting an accident, fire, crime or a medical emergency to law enforcement, such as calling 911. You may also hold a cell phone while lawfully parked in your car or truck. But, this does not include being stopped at a stop sign or traffic signal.
Common Accidents and Injuries Caused by Texting and Driving
Our Atlanta car accident lawyers have represented dozens, if not hundreds, of people like you that have been injured by a texting driver. Some of the most common accidents we see involving texting drivers include:
- Rear end collisions
- Crossing the center line
- Head-on collisions
- Loss of control
- Driving too fast for conditions
Some of the most common injuries caused by texting drivers include:
- Injuries caused by airbag deployment
- Whiplash neck injuries
- Passengers ejected from moving vehicles
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Fractured and broken bones
- Scars and burns
- Cuts and lacerations
- Arm, shoulder and wrist injuries
- Spinal Cord Damage
Behavior Georgia prohibits behind the wheel
Although the focus of this article has been on texting and driving, it is important to know that many other forms of distracted driving are either illegal or considered dangerous and distracting in Georgia. These include:
- Using your GPS to enter a destination or address while moving
- Sending Email from a phone or computer
- Talking on the phone without using a hands free connection
- Watching movies, videos or DVDs, including on phones, tablets or computers
- Reading magazines, books or maps (yes, we have all seen this at one time or another)
- Watching (or yelling at) children in the backseat
Get Help from Our Texting While Driving Accident Lawyers Today
If you believe your accident was caused by a texting driver, our experienced legal team can help you. Don’t let the money you deserve get away.
A texting driver should be held responsible for any injuries and losses other drivers or passengers suffer because of their decisions. The Atlanta texting while driving accident lawyers at the Millar Law Firm stand up for those who have been injured in Georgia car crashes caused by negligent drivers. With offices at 1201 Peachtree Street in Atlanta and car accident lawyer offices at 151 North Main Street in Jonesboro, South Atlanta, our goal is to make sure reckless drivers pay and you get the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by a driver who was texting behind the wheel, contact the legal team at the Millar Law Firm today at 770-400-0000 or through our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.
Georgia law says the party that causes a car accident must bear the costs that arise from the crash. This includes payments for medical expenses, property damage and lost income of those injured, as well as damages for pain and suffering. In fatalities, it may include wrongful death damages to the deceased’s survivors.
Contact us now at 770-400-0000 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.
Legal Resources Regarding Texting and Driving:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Distraction.gov – Facts and Statistics
- Governors Highway Traffic Safety Association – Distracted Driving
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