Distracted driving in Georgia is getting worse, and the General Assembly wants to do something about it. Legislators on the House Study Committee on Distracted Driving say that they are discussing the passage of an updated distracted driving law that would increase fines for distracted driving, among other possible changes.
According to state Rep. Bob Trammell, distracted driving, including texting and driving, is a public health issue and something must be done to curtail distractions.
This urgent need is reflected in the 2015 death of a 13-year-old child in Newman who was run over by a texting and driving teen. His mother last week urged the Committee to take action on a problem that is killing thousands of people in Georgia and across the nation.
Highway Fatalities in Georgia and the US On the Rise
Federal statistics show that highway deaths are climbing – there was a 14% increase across the country from 2014 to 2016, according to the National Safety Council. In 2016, more than 40,000 died in motor vehicle crashes, which is the deadliest year in a decade.
Deaths in Georgia rose as well – by one-third in the same time period. In 2016, 1,561 people were killed on Georgia roads. And 1,268 were killed through October of 2017, the Georgia Department of Transportation reports.
Distracted Driving Hard to Prove
It is challenging to prove the number of highway deaths due to cell phones and distracted driving. Experts say that most people will not fess up to such actions when they are in a crash. One authority, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, estimates 3477 people died due to distracted driving in 2015.
Researchers are confident that cell phone use is contributing to increasing injuries and fatalities on American highways. In Georgia, the Department of Driver Services handled 3,866 citations for driving while using a cell phone. This is a 30% increase from three years ago.
The state bars texting and driving, and no one under 18 may use any wireless device while they are driving. Enforcing these laws is very difficult, however.
Fines for violating the state statute are a paltry $150. But the House committee on distracted driving is talking about hiking the fine. Also being discussed is a new law that allows drivers to use only hands-free devices behind the wheel. But research about hands-free devices suggests that they do not make a major difference in crash rates.
The committee states that it intends to draft possible recommendations by the end of 2017.
In the meantime, experts recommend these tips to avoid distracted driving:
- Use your cell phone while on the road only in an emergency. And pull over to use it.
- Do not eat and drive. Saving time is not more important than the lives of other motorists and pedestrians.
- Limit passengers in the vehicle so you are not distracted by conversations.
- Multi-task at home or on the job, not behind the wheel. Your only task while driving is to drive. There should be no other distractions.
If you are injured by a distracted driver, you have the legal right to compensation for your accident injuries.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact The Mann Law Firm
Were you seriously injured by a negligent, distracted driver? Or was a loved one killed by a distracted driver? The Mann Law Firm is experienced in holding reckless drivers responsible for their actions. We can help you to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Please contact our Middle Georgia offices today at 478-742-3381 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.