Distracted Driving Case Lawyers

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You May Have A Case: Georgia’s Distracted Driving Laws

The Millar Law Firm are experts in getting full value out of distracted driving claims.  Georgia has many laws prohibiting distracted driving.  For example, in July 2018, the “Hands Free Georgia Act” went into effect.  This law and many others like it can be used to prove your injury case against a negligent driver.  Find out more here:

What are the allowable uses of a cell phone while driving in Georgia?

What types of cell phone use are now illegal behind the wheel in Georgia?

What penalties are there for violating Georgia’s Hands Free Act?

I was hit by a distracted driver, do I have a case?

Is a distracted driving case worth “more” than other car, truck or motorcycle accident cases?

How do I prove accident was caused by distracted driving?

Additional Answers, Legal Resources and Definitions:

What are the allowable uses of a cell phone while driving in Georgia?

In July 2018, Georgia’s Hands Free Driving Act went into effect. The Hands Free law allows drivers to use earphones aka earpieces, one earbud, cellular headsets and smart watches to talk while driving, but not for entertainment or music.  And, while drivers may not touch the phone, a driver is allowed to send text messages using a text-to-talk or voice-to-text feature on the phone.

Drivers may also use “one button” features to activate services like Siri or Google, and may use GPS as long as you are not inputting information into the GPS while driving the vehicle.  Drivers may also not watch videos, nor are drivers allowed to activate music streaming services while driving – unless the streaming service was activated while the vehicle was parked.

What types of cell phone use are now illegal behind the wheel in Georgia?

Georgia drivers may not hold or support a cell phone or other electronic device while driving.  Drivers may not read or send texts, facebook (or other social media) messages, or send any other instant messages.  Drivers may also not watch or send or broadcast videos, movies or live footage while driving.  A driver also may not activate or search for music streaming while driving, unless the driver does so while the motor vehicle is parked.  The law also now prohibits drivers from reaching for his or her phone or other electronic device from the driver’s seat if it requires moving from the driving position or taking off the seatbelt to reach it.

There are some exceptions to this new law, mostly for public safety reasons:  A driver may use a cell phone to report an accident or medical or other emergency, hazardous road conditions or a crime.  Drivers may use a phone or electronic device while parked – but not while at a stop sign or red-light.

What penalties are there for violating Georgia’s Hands Free Act?

Generally, a first offense of the Act is a fine up to $50.00 and two driving-license points.  A second violation will have a fine up to $100.00 and two-points; and a third citation within two-years means a fine up to $150.00 and three-points added to your drivers license.

I was hit by a distracted driver, do I have a case?

Yes, Georgia is so concerned about distracted driving that the State passed the Hands Free Law.  Distracted driving is negligent driving, and is, unfortunately, far too common.  While violation of the cell phone laws does not automatically mean your case against the at-fault is “larger” (it can be, if the circumstances justify imposing punitive damages), Judges and Juries are generally far-less forgiving of drivers who cause accidents because they were talking on the cell phone or playing with an electronic device or their smart phone.  An experienced personal injury lawyer will take steps to obtain the cell phone records of the at-fault driver to investigate and determine if the crash may have been caused by distracted driving.

According to the NHTSA, more than 3,328 people were killed and approximately 421,000 people injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Any activity which takes the attention of the driver of a car, truck, or other vehicle away from the primary task of safely driving their vehicle is a distraction.

Distracted driving is a huge threat to public safety, killing more than 15 people and injuring about 1,200 people each day, according to NHTSA statistics (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). It’s no wonder that more than one out of three drivers say they feel less safe operating a vehicle now than they did five years ago. That’s partly because an alarming number of people are engaged in distracting behaviors behind the wheel when they should be focused on driving.

Is a distracted driving case worth “more” than other car, truck or motorcycle accident cases?

Yes, it can be.  Any motor vehicle accident that is caused by “aggravating circumstances” can – and often does – have a settlement or expected jury verdict value greater than a crash that results from a simple driving mistake.  A driver who has made the decision to talk on the phone or text while operating a car or truck has made a conscious and deliberate choice to endanger other motorists.  Its a simple as that.

Judges and Jurors (possibly your area neighbors) may not look kindly on a driver who is proven to be on the phone or using a device and, as a result, causes a serious automobile accident.  As lawyers, we are always trying to discover the reasons why a crash happened, and we view cases that were caused by drivers doing something exceptionally dangerous like driving while intoxicated, talking on the phone or texting and driving as potentially larger cases.

How do I prove accident was caused by distracted driving?

Cell phone calling and data records can be used to prove if a driver was likely talking on the phone at the time of an accident, or streaming data.  Additionally, it is very common for drivers or bystanders who witness a crash to call 911.  The audio recordings to the 911 communications center should be requested immediately after an accident, because witnesses often describe how a wreck happened, including describing what the drivers were doing in the moments leading to the collision.

Why are so many Georgia car accidents caused by Distracted Driving?

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, there are three main types of distractions for drivers:

Graphic of some of the ways drivers can become distracted behind the wheel: visual, manual or cognitive

  • Visual – This happens when you take your eyes off the road.
  • Manual – This distraction occurs when your hands are off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive – This kind of distraction happens when your mind is not focused on what you are doing.

Any activity that diverts the driver’s attention while operating a motor vehicle amounts to distracted driving. Some of the most common – and dangerous – distractions include:

Nine percent of all drivers in the United States regularly text or send emails while driving, Text messaging causes some of the worst car accidents, including head-on crashes

Among all dangerous distractions, texting and operating a car or truck is generally considered by far the most dangerous, as it combines multiple distractions. Text messaging  causes some of the worst car accidents, including head-on crashes. A 2010 HealthStyles Survey found that nine percent of all drivers in the United States regularly text or send emails while driving. Also, teens seem to text and drive more than adults. Learn more about teens and distracted driving in Georgia here.

Another common distraction is talking on the phone.

According to a NHTSA study, approximately 660,000 drivers operate cellphones or other electronic devices while driving.  Young operators (under 20 years old) are the most likely to be distracted drivers behind the wheel.

A National Safety Council Survey revealed that 10 percent of daytime motorists operate some type of hands-free or hand-held device while driving. The NSC‘s studies have indicated that the reaction time of a driver operating a device while driving resembles that of an impaired driver. While using a hands-free device does allow the driver maintain both hands on the steering wheel, it does not reduce the level of distraction.

And, distractions are not limited to using a phone or texting.  For instance, studies show that reaching for a moving object; being distracted by objects outside the vehicle; reading; or applying makeup increases the risk of a collision by between 4 and 9 times.  Using other devices such as a GPS device and  talking or listening to a hand-held cell phone increases the risk of an accident between 1.3 and 4 times.  In fact, just plain drowsiness — being a tired driver behind the wheel, makes you 4 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.

Georgia Distracted Driving Laws

Many drivers routinely break laws regarding cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.  This prohibition is what is known as a primary law.  This means that if you are spotted texting by a police officer, you will be stopped and ticketed even if you are not committing another driving violation.  Georgia has a limited ban on cell phone use behind the wheel. Novice drivers under age 18 cannot use a cell phone while driving in Georgia, and school bus drivers are also barred from using cell phones behind the wheel. The cell phone ban covers both handheld and hands-free phones. Other drivers 18 and older are allowed to use cell phones while driving.

However, the issue of whether a driver is liable for a car accident is separate from whether they were breaking a law at the time. For example, if a driver over the age of 18 was talking on the cell phone and caused a crash, that could still be evidence of negligence even though it wasn’t against Georgia law for that driver to use the phone.

A 2011 report by the Governors Highway Safety Commission reveals how often drivers indulge themselves in potentially lethal distractions despite the risks and the laws against them. The study concluded that approximately 15 to 25 percent of all auto accidents are associated with distracted driving. In addition, drivers are distracted about half the time they are in control of an automobile. The report also found that texting increases the risk of car wrecks over cell phone use. Can technology help prevent distracted driving?

Any type of cell phone use, whether hand-held or through a headset, delays a driver’s reaction just as much as having a blood alcohol reading at the legal limit of 0.08 percent. This means that distracted driving may be just as deadly as driving while under the influence.

What happens if your distracted driving causes an accident?

Driving distracted could cause a serious accident resulting in death or severe personal injuries. You could also receive a ticket for distracted driving.  In Georgia, some of the possible consequences for distracted driving are:

  • Fines
  • Suspended licenses
  • Severe injuries/death
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Insurance rate increase
  • Court costs

Georgia’s Due Care Law:  O.C.G.A. 40-6-241

Georgia law requires all drivers to exercise what is known as “due care” in the operation of a vehicle on Georgia’s highways.  Drivers may not engage in any behavior that distracts him or her from safe operation, but may properly use a radio, CB radio, or a mobile phone (if used properly under the Hands Free Law).  O.C.G.A. 40-6-241.

What are the Rules for Hands-Free Use by Truck and Bus Drivers?

Drivers of Commercial vehicles (CMV) may only use one button to begin or end a phone call.  CMV drivers may not reach for a mobile device if it takes the driver out of a safe driving position or remove a seat belt.

Are Georgia School Bus Drivers prohibited from cell phone use?

Mostly, yes.  A Georgia driver of a school bus may not use a wireless communication device while loading or unloading.  And, a school bus driver may not use a cell phone or radio while driving except to communicate with school or public safety officials.

“Wireless Communication” Defined:

Under the Georgia Hands Free Law engaging in wireless communication means talking, texting (sending or reading) or listening on or to a wireless device.  O.C.G.A. 40-6-241.1.

Can a minor or instructional-permit driver use a cell-phone, hands free, while driving?

No.  This is prohibited, except in the case of an emergency.  Under Georgia law, a person under the age of 18 or with an instruction permit or Class D license may not use a cell phone or other wireless communication device – even hands free — while driving.  O.C.G.A. 40-3-241.1(2)(b).

Am I allowed to hold and use my cell-phone if I am parked?

Yes, under Georgia law, a driver may lawfully hold and use his or her cell phone or other wireless electronic device while lawfully parked.  O.C.G.A. 40-6-241.2(c)(5).


For more information, the team at the Millar Law Firm are here to help. With years of experience helping victims of car accidents get the compensation they deserve, the team of attorneys at Millar Law Firm can help you too. Call today!