Recently in Distracted Driving Category

GDOT Shows Distracted Driving a Factor in Increase in Traffic Accident Fatalities

May 28, 2015

Motor vehicle accident fatalities continue to be a problem across the United States. This is true in Georgia, where the traffic accident fatality toll in the first half of 2015 looks set to exceed the number recorded the previous year. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) believes that distracted driving, accounts for much of that increase.

Thus far, according to the statistics, traffic accidents are up by 25% over the previous year. Georgia records an average of 100 fatalities every month, and at that rate, the total will be at least 1,200 fatalities by the end of the year. If that happens, it would be an increase of 4.6% from 2014. There have been close to 400 traffic accident fatalities in Georgia this year.

Other findings from the 2015 statistics should cause even more alarm. For example, many of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Only 38 % of the motorists involved in fatal accidents were wearing seat belts at the time. In addition, 69% failed to maintain their lanes. These are crucial driving errors that dramatically increase the risk of being killed in an accident.

Even more worrisome is the fact that single-car accidents are on the increase. About 60% of the fatalities involved drivers whose cars crashed into trees, bridges, or other stationary objects. This seems indicative of distracted driving. Causes of serious car accidents vary, but it is likely that many of the drivers and/or passengers in these cases were inattentive, or preoccupied at the time of the accident.

It's hard to say for certain how many accidents in 2015 were linked to distracted driving. These accidents will result in investigations that will take many months to complete, and therefore, complete information will not be available for many months. However, when an accident involves a car and a stationary object, it is reasonable to assume that the driver was inattentive or distracted by something at the wheel. Other possibilities, however, include defective automobile parts, such as brake or tire failure.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation statistics, in 2014, out of a total of 8,581 accidents linked to distracted driving, at least 18 were fatal. In 2009, out of 3,454 accidents directly linked to distracted driving, 11 were fatal accidents. That seems to indicate that the proportion of fatal distracted driving accidents is increasing steadily. During that same time, the number of people injured in distracted driving accidents increased by 181%.

Texting While Driving Ban Not Enough to Deter Car Accidents Stemming from Texting While Driving

April 23, 2014

Despite the fairly recent spate of Georgia laws banning texting while driving, as well as an accompanying push by mainstream media to educate consumers nationwide, motorists continue to regularly engage in the practice-- either because they fail to recognize the very real risk presented by what has repeatedly been called one of the most precarious distracted driving activities, or because they purposefully choose to ignore it. Then again, the push against distracted driving is so recent that many people may find it difficult to fully comprehend the repercussions that the activity can have. Nonetheless, this lack of education does nothing to change the ultimate, and often fatal, effect that results.

A woman in Douglas County, Georgia, recently demonstrated just how fatal checking even one seemingly insignificant text message while behind the wheel can be, reports Alexis Stevens at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 26-year-old Danielle Garcia had allegedly just received a text message and was holding a conversation on her cell phone moments before she caused a fatal car accident that claimed two lives and resulted in significant injuries to other motorists involved. Among charges for second degree homicide by vehicle, following too closely and driving with an expired license, she also faces a charge for distracted driving--even though Garcia attempted to delete the text message before handing her phone over to police officials.

With technological advances steadily making the rounds in the communication realm, an increasing number of consumers are lured by the temptation to use their phones while in the car. Because, however, the number of car accidents caused by distracted driving is also on the rise, many personal injury attorneys are starting to feel that educational media utilizing the "shock factor" may indeed be the best deterrent currently available.

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Texting While Driving: New Twist on Liability and Car Accidents Causes Concern for Motorists/Friends and Family

September 17, 2013

In this technology-driven age, texting while driving is undoubtedly the most rampant of the distracted driving culprits. It has become so much of an issue that many states, including Georgia, have in recent years implemented bans against the practice - hoping that discouraging the conduct will subsequently curtail the number of car accidents that result. Georgia codified its ban three years ago, in 2010. The law, O.C.G.A. ยง 40-6-241.1, applies to all drivers in the state. Furthermore, acknowledging that young drivers most often fall prey to the call of the cell, a full cell phone ban was promulgated that same year against motorists under the age of 18. Violators in both instances face a penalty of $150 upon conviction, plus a point against their driving history.

Since that time, more serious offenses (e.g. distracted driving coupled with substance abuse) have carried the potential for stiffer penalties when an injured party actually files a lawsuit. Recently, some Georgia courts have held that texting while driving may result in personal liability of a kind beyond the protection of insurance coverage.

The laws have certainly experienced a certain degree of success. In fact, Georgia's laws on distracted driving are so effectively worded that the state was one of only seven selected to receive a grant from the Department of Transportation to help combat the epidemic. Georgia topped the list of seven with a grant of $1.63 million. So, it seems, the laws are here to stay.

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Police Resort to Spying on Distracted Motorists in Order to Curb Car Accidents

November 8, 2012

Georgia is one of 38 states that currently have a ban on texting while driving. Previously, we've discussed the distracted driving law that passed in Georgia nearly two years ago. As a recap, current prohibitions include:

- Text messaging banned for all drivers. Fines of $150.
- Drivers under the age of 18 prohibited from using cell phones, regardless of whether a hands-free device is attached. Also bans computer use. Fines of $150.
- School bus operators prohibited from using cell phones while driving, if passengers are present.

However, news coverage since the passing of the legislation has served to only highlight the statute's many flaws and arguable ineffectiveness. In fact, as of October 2012, only about 1300 tickets have been issued under the distracting driving laws, according to the Department of Driver Services in Georgia. It has been so unsuccessful that many senators are considering presenting supplemental hands-free legislation during the 2013 session. Young drivers continue to struggle with compliance ( and car accidents brought on by distracted drivers continues to plague the country with ever-increasing frequency.

Both personal injury attorneys and law enforcement officials, it seems, are taking notice. Many have noted that enforcing the laws are extremely difficult, if not borderline impossible. A driver may indeed be pulled over for texting while driving, but officers are hard-pressed to confirm their suspicions, especially when gaining clear evidence may entail illegal search and seizure of a motorist's mobile device. In light of this, many states are considering an experimental technique - actually "spying on motorists while they drive."

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Texting While Driving a Problem for Young Motorists: NHTSA Unveils New Distracted Driving Measure and NTSB Issues All-Call for a Ban on Cell Phone Use

December 30, 2011

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Deborah Hersman has called a 2010 car accident a "big red flag for all drivers." A 19-year-old traveling near Missouri at 55 mph rear-ended a tractor trailer in the beginning of what could only be described as a deadly, multi-vehicle, chain collision. Initially, reports a writer for the Associated Press, investigators were perplexed as to what could have caused the motorist to crash, but phone records quickly revealed the truth. He had either sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately preceding the accident. Considering that texting while driving is a distraction on several fronts - visually, cognitively and manually - it's no wonder that similar crashes often result, especially when teenage drivers are involved.

Still, car accident attorneys aren't surprised that the accident has prompted NTSB to urge a nationwide ban on cellphone use while driving - for all age groups. Distracted driving is a prevalent issue. On Tuesday, December 13th, the National Transportation Safety Board became the first federal agency to "call for an outright prohibition on telephone conversations while driving" and a few states have already heeded the call to a certain extent, Georgia among them. The state recently banned texting while driving, although phone calls are still permitted for those 18 and older. Drivers under the age of 18 are banned from both texting and phone calls.

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Car Manufacturer Finds a Way around New Distracted Driving Laws: Car Crashes and Texting While Driving Still Pose Problems

November 17, 2011

The Governor's Highway Safety Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C. has crafted a synopsis of all state cell phone and text messaging laws, available on its Website at According to their site, texting while driving has been banned in approximately 35 states so far, with Georgia joining the roster in late 2010. Aimed at curbing instances of distracted driving and subsequent car accidents, violation of the ban in Georgia (and cell phone use by drivers under 18) carries a $150 fine.

Called the Caleb Sorohan Act after a young man who died in a car crash while texting, the law applies to text messages, instant messages (IM), email, and Internet data. It's even enforceable at stoplights. That summer, Atlanta car accident attorneys kept an eye on the act, watching as it was approved by the House (131-19 vote) on April 27, signed by the governor on June 4 and, after a one-month delay, enforced beginning Aug. 1. Today, we continue to keep our eye on the act with one particular question in mind: Will the ban actually result in a marked decrease in car accidents?

It's certainly true that text messaging while driving causes considerable problems for the average driver. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted in 2009 found that for truck drivers alone, text messaging made the risk of crash or near-crash event 23.2 times more likely than non-distracted driving. Similarly, a 2007 Clemson University simulated driving study discovered that text messaging and fiddling with iPods caused drivers to swerve from their lane 10% more often. Georgia State Patrol officers made their own observations about the phenomenon. Texting drivers tend to weave in and out of lanes, and drive more slowly and, if an accident results, drivers' cell phone records may be subpoenaed.

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