The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies three types of distracted driving practices: visual (taking your eyes off the road), cognitive (taking your mind off the task of driving) and manual (taking your hands off the driving wheel). Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distractions.
Fortunately, texting while driving is illegal in Georgia. Even so, many people continue to engage in this practice.
Furthermore, law enforcement officers say the law is difficult to enforce. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, state troopers have only issued an average of 11 citations a month since the law took effect in July 2010. State records suggest that convictions of the texting law have been minimal in most counties.
The law is hard to enforce because officers have to prove that someone was texting at the wheel-not merely dialing a number or speaking on the phone. Furthermore, many motorists hide their phone when an officer is in sight.
The practice is nevertheless alarming. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adds that a motorist’s eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds each time they transmit or receive a text.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reports that there were 3,840 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Georgia last year. Nine crashes were fatal, and 955 resulted in serious injury. Undoubtedly, texting and driving was a major contributing factor in these serious car accidents.
As the law stands, bus drivers and inexperienced motorists (novice drivers under age 18) may not use a cellphone while driving. However, all drivers are prohibited from texting and driving. The law prohibits motorists from using a cellphone or similar wireless device to write, transmit or read text data while driving. The ban applies to instant messages, email and Internet data.
The law creates exceptions for emergency personnel, drivers responding to emergencies and motorists who are fully parked (this does not include pausing at a red light).
Those who violate the law are subject to a $150 fine and one point against their driving record.
Georgia’s cellphone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws, which means that an officer can pull a person over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. If the officer sees a person texting and driving, he or she may issue the motorist a citation.
With time, motorists will hopefully understand the importance of safe driving, which does not include distractions such as texting.
If a negligent or distracted driver has injured you, you may want to contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you assess your accident and evaluate your potential for legal recovery.