Georgia Texting and Driving Accidents

Scholle Law discusses accidents in Georgia involving texting and driving. In this article for their law firm’s website, the attorneys at Scholle law discuss these accidents and the benefit of hiring a Georgia texting accident lawyer. If you have any questions about this content or want to speak to a Georgia texting accident lawyer, call or contact us today for a free consultation.

There is a lot to be thankful for when it comes to modern technology.  Never has it been easier to navigate to and from a new destination or find an alternate route to work when traffic is a nightmare.  But with all the benefits of today’s technology also comes a new risks, distracted driving and texting and driving.  It’s hard to ignore the temptation to pull out our phones when with it comes the ability to quickly tap out a message to our friends and family, or to let our boss know that we’re running late to the office. 

Many of us do it and with the accessibility of an iPhone or Android, it’s happening more and more.  But while it may seem harmless to take just a few seconds to look down at our phones and text out a short message, when you’re driving at a high rate of speed, those few seconds could equal driving the distance of a football field!  Texting and driving have become such a prevalent problem over the last few years that as of October 2020, forty-eight states have banned texting and driving, and the state of Georgia was one of them! 

So, what are the laws against texting and driving in Georgia, and what steps can you take if you or your loved ones are injured due to a texting driver?

First, it is important to determine what constitutes distracted driving.  While it may seem obvious that texting while driving would qualify as a distraction, distracted driving is more than just texting.  Distracted driving can be any activity that would take the driver’s eyes away from the road and their hands off the steering wheel.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies distracted driving under three types of practices: visual, which would be taking your eyes off the road, cognitive, which is taking your mind off the task of driving, and manual, which is taking your hands off the driving wheel.  This can include a multitude of different types of interferences that disturb the driver’s concentration. 

Visual distractions would include looking at a cell phone, fiddling with the radio or GPS, talking and looking at a passenger, attempting to apply make-up or just looking in the mirror.  Even being preoccupied by a pesky insect buzzing around the car could be determined as distracted driving if it were to cause a motor vehicle collision.  Cognitive distractions can often be auditory as it includes listening or hearing something not related to driving.  The radio, a screaming child, or, again, a cell phone, are all examples of auditory distractions that would have the ability to take your mind off the important task of driving safely.  The third type of distraction, manual distractions, would be when you are manipulating something other than the steering wheel, such as eating or drinking, reaching to grab something, and of course, holding your cell phone. 

These distractions alone can have serious consequences, but what makes texting so dangerous is that it combines all three; visual, cognitive and manual.  And it’s not dangerous just for the texting driver, but also for passengers and anyone else who shares the road with them.  According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018 alone. These deaths weren’t just drivers either.  Among the many lives lost, 1,730 were drivers, 605 were passengers, 400 were pedestrians and 77 were bicyclists, which is why it is so important to lead by example.  Make sure that the example you’re setting is that you don’t text and drive.  Staying hands free in front of your family, friends and co-workers shows that you value not just your life, but the lives of everyone else you share the road with.  And now, staying hands free isn’t just a good example to set, it is the law!

In an attempt to cut down on distracted driving accidents, lawmakers in Georgia passed statutes making it illegal to drive and use a handheld cell phone.  In 2018, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the Hands-Free Georgia Act.  Commonly known as the Distracted Driving Law or the Hands-Free Law, the House Bill 673 requires all drivers to use hands free technology when they are behind the wheel.  In fact, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c)(2) makes it illegal to read a text, instant message, email, look at a website, watch, record or broadcast a video or movie, or use any other internet data while operating a vehicle.  This means that live streaming, snapchatting, and the like are all prohibited under Georgia law while you are driving.

 O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 goes on to classify holding a phone as physically holding or supporting with any part of his or her body.  “While driving a motor vehicle in Georgia, do not hold your smartphone or cell phone, and do not support such a device with other parts of your body, such as resting it on your leg or in your lap.”  This means that if you are caught with your smartphone or cell phone resting in your lap or propped up on your leg, then you can be cited for distracted driving even if you aren’t texting or holding it in your hand at the time.  And being idle at a stop sign or red light is still considered driving, so don’t reach down to grab or look at your cell phones until your car is in park!

Unfortunately, these laws are not effective if they are ignored.  Drivers who continue to use their cell phones to make and answer calls, send text messages, and return emails instead of simply focusing on the road can, and will, cause preventable car accidents, or worse, fatalities.  In 2019, the CDC reported that each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed, and more than a thousand people are injured in motor vehicle accidents that involve a distracted driver.  And while there are many things that may allow you to talk or text while using hands-free technology, it is always imperative to stay aware of your surroundings. 

Beyond the risk of causing a motor vehicle accident, there are penalties for violating the Hands-Free Law.  The first time you are charged with distracted driving in Georgia, the penalty will be a fine of up to $50.00 and 1 point will be added to your driving license.  If you are charged a second time, the fine can increase to $100 and 2 points.  Any subsequent convictions of using a cell phone while driving and you can be penalized with a fine of up to $150 and 3 points.  To avoid fines, or worse, serious injuries and damages to yourself or others, simply put the phone away while driving.  It isn’t worth it!

So, what happens if you or a loved one is injured due to a driver that was texting?  Of course, it is important that you are compensated for your injuries and pain and suffering but proving negligence due to distracted driving can be problematic.  Even with the passing of multiple Georgia laws cracking down on distracted driving, it can be hard for officers to make an arrest for texting behind the wheel.  This is because it is often difficult to verify that the driver was actually on their cell phone at the time of the incident.  However, just because an arrest or citation wasn’t made at the scene doesn’t mean that negligence can’t be proven.  The first thing to do is ask any witnesses at the scene what they saw.  If there is a witness that can testify that the at fault driver was on their cell phone, this can greatly help your claim.  Even a witness that can attest to the fact that the driver seemed distracted, such as by not paying attention or not looking at the road at the time of the incident.  Always make sure that all witness statements are made to the responding officer at the scene so that it is reflected in the police’s report. 

While a witness at the scene can be an easy way to obtain the necessary proof of distracted driving, there may not always be one.  If this is the case, another way of proving negligence can be through the driver’s cell phone records.  Cell phone records can be subpoenaed and they could reflect that at the time of the accident or incident, a phone call or text message was sent or received, proving that the driver was either using the phone already, or at the very least, distracted by an incoming call or text.  Because cell phone records are private information, companies typically will not release records outside of it being requested for civil litigation purposes, so this information is generally obtained only after a lawsuit has been filed.   However, there are exceptions to every rule, and some companies may release these records to certain individuals, typically certain law enforcement agencies, if it is part of an ongoing investigation.  It is always important to discuss the individual merits of your case with an experienced Georgia texting accident lawyer if you feel that you were injured by a distracted driver.

Texting and driving can have serious consequences.  Even a low speed collision could result in severe injuries due to the violent nature of motor vehicle accidents.  But, as we’ve learned, it isn’t always as simple as it should seem to prove negligence when it comes to a distracted driver.  If you or a loved one were involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by the negligence of a careless, distracted driver, you should never be held liable for any damages or injuries.  In order to receive the full compensation you deserve, it is important that you reach out to an experienced Georgia texting accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact a Georgia Texting Accident Lawyer at Scholle Law

Regarding Georgia texting and distracted driving accidents our injury attorneys have handled a lot of these cases. They have the experience and know-how to provide zealous counsel for car, motorcycle and big truck accident victims.   Motor vehicle accident injuries often include minor cuts and abrasions, soft tissue injuries and back and neck pain.  In severe cases, injuries can even include broken bones, surgeries, hospitalization and even loss of life. We help injury victims every day and understand what is at stake.

The Georgia texting accidents lawyers at Scholle Law can identify the issues specific to your case and help you navigate them. Distracted driving cases are complicated. They require expertise and knowledge of the law. We have the experience and resources to help texting accident injury victims! Scholle Law firm offers free consultations. Our office encourages anyone with any injury case matter to contact Scholle Law. Call now for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our phones are answered 24/7.

To set up a meeting, call us today at (678) 921-3320 or contact us online.