Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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Record  numbers of motorists are expected to throng Georgia highways this Thanksgiving, and  traffic enforcement agencies are warning of a higher risk of auto accidents. This is true with all holidays, but especially with holidays that result in extended days off for many workers. All holidays of this nature see a spike in the number of car accidents and, unfortunately, wrongful deaths.

This year, authorities are gearing up for a significant increase in the number of motorists on Georgia’s roads and highways.  Across the metro Atlanta region and beyond, families will be traveling to meet up with friends and relatives as they celebrate the holiday under more normal circumstances.  Over the past three years, roadway travel over the Thanksgiving holiday dropped significantly.   This year, however, the story is markedly different. Authorities believe that there is likely to be an increase of approximately 26,000 motorists on Georgia roads over the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the same period of time last year.

Not only is Thanksgiving a time when people typically travel, but this year the crowds are expected to be even more intense since this is the first holiday since the pandemic that conditions are expected to be relatively normal. Georgians, in general, are traveling much more than they were during the pandemic, and vehicle miles traveled have increased significantly.

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More than 300,000 auto accidents every year can be linked to fatigued drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, and more than 6000 of these crashes end in deaths. The first step to preventing this auto accidents is to make drivers aware of the risk of driving while fatigued.

That data comes from the Governors Highway Safety Association which estimates that 328,000 car accidents every year can be linked to drowsy driving.  Out of these, more than 191,000 result in serious personal injuries while 6,400 crashes result in wrongful deaths. The Governors Highway Safety Association also estimates that the total cost of these auto accidents, not including property damage, amounts to more than 109 billion dollars each year.

About 10 to 20 percent of all care accidents and truck accidents in the United States can be linked to driving under the influence of tiredness or fatigue.  The actual number could be even higher because it’s hard to tell if a driver was dozing off or fell asleep at the wheel after an accident.  Unlike with alcohol – related car accidents in which it is possible to identify and determine if the person was drunk at the time of the accident, there are no tests that can identify if a person dozed off in the seconds before a car crash.  All data points to the probability that drowsy driving is much more common than estimated.

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Parents who make use of a smartphone app instead of the traditional pen and paper system to supervise their teen children’s mandatory practice driving hours could be helping the driver avoid car accidents and stay safe on the road.  Due to their limited experience, teen driver’s are more likely to be involved in an auto accident.

A new study focuses on the effectiveness of smartphone apps used to track teenage motorists’ supervised driving hours as part of their mandatory GDL requirements, and compares the effectiveness of these apps with logs using pen and paper.  In Georgia, like in most other states, teenagers must complete several hours of supervised driving before they are eligible to get learners’ permits.  Under  Georgia law, a novice driver who is at least 15 years of age must first obtain an instructional permit that allows him or her to drive under the supervision of a  licensed motorist who is at least 21 years of age.  In many cases, parents act as the driving supervisors for their children.  It is only after this supervised driving phase has been completed that a person can appear for an intermediate license.

Needless to say, these hours of supervised driving are critically important to the teen driver.  Not only do they allow her or him to practice driving safely under the supervision of a parent, but also allow parents to foster the kind of driving behavior that they want their child to practice when they are driving on their own, in order to avoid car accidents.

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From inexperience to distractions from passengers, teen motorists  are faced with a variety of auto accident risks.   However, the two biggest risks facing teen motorists are their tendencies to drive at high speeds and use cell phones while driving.

That information comes from the results of a new study presented recently at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. The study was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

The driving behaviors of a total of 155 teenagers were studied as part of the research.  The data was collected in the form of an app that the teenagers used while they were driving.  The  app measured and monitored the presence of dangerous driving behaviors like using a cell phone and driving at high speeds that increased car accident risks.

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A combination of proven and time-tested strategies like expansion of seatbelt usage and cracking down on intoxicated driving could help save as many as half a million lives in auto accidents across the world every year.

According to a new study, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost across the world every year in car accidents, and many of these lives could be saved if simple strategies are implemented by governments. In a new study that was published recently in the Lancet journal, researchers analyzed car accident statistics around the world and identified the strategies that can be used to prevent these auto accidents and the resultant wrongful deaths. An overwhelming majority of car accident fatalities, according to the study, are linked to  drunk driving,  failure to wear seat belts,  and high speeds.  These are the three most critical factors in auto accidents, no matter which country you are driving in. They are also some of the most preventable factors.

A strong focus on reducing the incidence of drunk driving, for instance, would help save hundreds of thousands of lives in car accidents every year.  Stringent enforcement with tougher penalties for violations can help the government reduce the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in this country.  Similarly, enforcement should be at the crux of any campaign that calls on drivers to drive at posted speeds.  It is not as if drivers are not aware of the dangers of drunk driving or driving at high speeds.  Rather, this knowledge is often ignored.  Stronger enforcement of existing rules and penalties for violations can encourage motorists to drive at safe speeds.

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Last year, Georgia made it legal for commercial establishments to sell to-go alcoholic drinks in sealed containers.  There have been concerns, however, that  to-go alcoholic drinks can increase a motorist’s risk of driving under the influence of alcohol and being involved in an auto accident.

The demand for alcoholic drinks which are sold in containers and are meant for persons to carry home with them skyrocketed during the pandemic when bars and restaurants were restricted in the number of patrons they could serve.  Seven states, including Georgia, passed laws that allowed the sale of these sealed containers of alcohol,  with restrictions imposed on these sales.  In Georgia, to-go cocktails must contain a maximum of 3 ounces of alcohol.  The container must be sealed with no option for a straw. Further, the person taking the alcoholic drink must store these somewhere safe like a locked glove  box and the container must not be opened while driving.  The law never meant for the use of these to-go cocktails by persons to drink while driving.  You  cannot drink these to-go cocktails as you do other non-alcoholic beverages while driving.

However, safety advocates have been concerned that the law allowing availability of alcohol in the car places all the responsibility for safe use of these drinks on the motorist. However, the law does not take into consideration the fact that motorists might be tempted to open the container and drink at the wheel. While initial data seemed to suggest that there is no significant increase in the risk of drunk driving car accidents as a result of to-go cocktail sales, states that have allowed the sale of such alcoholic beverages to go have seen an increase in drunk driving car accidents.  The flip side, however, is that states that do not allow or severely restrict the sale of these cocktails have also seen an increase in alcohol-related auto accidents in the past two years.  It is hard, therefore, to pinpoint the sale of alcoholic beverages as the reason for the spike in car accidents.

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Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are very effective in helping reduce the risk of drunk driving auto accidents, but may not be really useful in preventing other types of car accidents.  In fact, the drop in drunk driving car accident wrongful deaths could actually be offset by the deaths in other types of auto accidents in which these ridesharing services are more likely to be involved.

In a new study. researchers compared car accident rates involving Uber and Lyft vehicles in cities where these are available. The researchers did not compare cities where ridesharing services are available with those where these services are not.  Rather, they compared individual ride hailing trips and compared the car accidents involving these trips.

They found that overall, the services were definitely helpful in reducing the risk of drunk driving auto accidents for obvious reasons. Safety advocates recommend that a person who is intoxicated choose a ride sharing service or taxicab instead of driving himself in an intoxicated condition.  To this extent, Uber and Lyft services seem to be very beneficial in helping intoxicated persons reach home safely without getting behind the wheel themselves. While intoxicated drivers may have other options, including mass transit or taxis, rideshare services seem to win out because of speed, convenience and ease of use to users who are more likely to prefer these.

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The Governor’s Highway Safety Association has released a new report that provides recommendations to state highway offices on steps that they can take to reduce the incidence of distracted driving. A significant number of car accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted due to their use of telephones, radios, eating and other activities in their car.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association released the report titled Directing Drivers’ Attention: State Highway Safety Office Roadmap for Combating Distracted Driving.  In the report, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association presents a number of recommendations that states can use in order to reduce the risk of drivers causing auto accidents while distracted. These types of car accidents are a significant cause of personal injuries that occur in accidents.

The recommendations are broad- ranging, and include everything from enforcement and law making to infrastructure and education. One of the more important topics that the Governor’s Highway Safety Association addresses in its report is the role of distracted driving laws.  The Governor’s Highway Safety Association is recommending that states amend their Graduated Driver’s Licensing laws to restrict the number of passengers that teen drivers can have in their car.  Teen passengers can be a major source of distraction for novice drivers. Fortunately, Georgia has already adopted this measure. New teen drivers in Georgia cannot have a passenger who is not a family member during the first 6 months of driving and then is gradually, over time, allowed to have passengers who are not relatives.

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The Georgia Department of Transportation is partnering with the Lutzie 43 Foundation in a new campaign to reduce the number of people seriously injured or killed in car accidents every year.

The Lutzie 43 Foundation launched the 43 Key Seconds campaign after the wrongful death of a much- loved family member in a traffic accident caused by an impaired and distracted driver. The 43 Key Seconds campaign centres around the use of special keys that remind drivers to take 43 seconds to prepare themselves for the task of driving, eliminate all distractions and ensure that they are completely alert behind the wheel before they begin operating the car.

The key reminds drivers to plan ahead for a designated driver if they are out for an evening of drinking and reminds them to make sure that their cell phones are on Silent mode before they begin driving. Drunk driving and distracted driving involving the use of a cell phone are two of the most preventable types of car accident which occur.

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As of 2018, a whopping 77 percent of the American population possessed a smartphone. A driver that is distracted because of cellphone use can produce devastating results because rather than focusing on the road, they are involved in tasks such as reading and answering emails and texts, engaging in social media and other highly distracting activities that can seriously impede a motorist’s concentration at the wheel.

Lawmakers in Georgia recently passed the Hands-Free Law which prohibits drivers from using a handheld cell phone, with very few exceptions.  This is good news for drivers in the Atlanta area as research shows that motorists in states that have a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones are less likely to use a cell phone or smart phone while driving.  This helps to reduce the risks of accidents on the roads keeping everyone safer.  There is a growing trend across the nation to ban cellphone use while driving.  Georgia was the 16th state to impose a ban on hand-held cell phones for motorists.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in its latest safety report focuses on distracted driving, especially cell phone use and its effect on driving safety. The researchers found that motorists in states that ban cellphone use, like Georgia, were less likely to be at risk of an accident caused by their cellphone use.

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