Beyond Texting: Understanding Georgia’s Distracted Driving Laws

Texting and driving is a topic constantly discussed in Georgia and across the nation. In 2013, distracted driving caused 10 percent of fatal crashes and 16 percent of car accidents nationwide.  A total of 3,154 people were killed in car accidents caused by a distracted driver that same year. With numbers like these, it is not surprising that Georgia lawmakers have taken measures to prevent distracted driving.

Defining Distracted Driving

While we mostly think of texting when we think of distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines a distraction “anything that takes the driver’s attention away from…navigating the vehicle.” A distraction can take one of three forms: visual, cognitive or manual.

  • Visual Distractions: Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Common visual distractions include reading directions or reading a map while driving.
  • Cognitive Distractions: Anything that takes a driver’s mind off of driving. Common example of cognitive distraction includes talking to another driver or mentally going over the day.  
  • Manual Distractions: Anything that takes the driver’s hands off the wheel. This includes adjusting the radio or trying to fish out items from a wallet, purse, or backpack.

Many distractions might fit into more than one category. Drinking, for example, is both a visual and manual distraction, while using your cellphone to lookup directions is visual, cognitive ,and manual. Georgia law attempts to prevent drivers from texting while also addressing other forms of distracted driving.

Georgia Prohibits Distracted Driving

Georgia law considers using a smartphone and texting as a distraction. In 2010, Georgia banned drivers from writing, sending or receiving text messages. This update to the law considers other distractions as unlawful and discourages drivers from engaging in those activities while driving. Interestingly, the law does not clearly define distractions. This lack of clarity in the law gives the court and police officers leeway in identifying an unlawful distraction.

Different Rules for Minors & School Bus Drivers

Georgia law prohibits texting. However, most adult drivers may legally use a cellphone with a hands-free device to make phone calls. However, younger, less experienced drivers and school bus drivers are not allowed to use cell phones.

Victims of Distracted Drivers Deserve Compensation

A total of 3,145 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2013. Victims of accidents caused by distracted drivers may experience mild injuries such as cuts and bruises. They may also suffer life-changing injuries and in the worse cases, they may die from their injuries. Insurance may cover medical expenses; however, it may not be enough to cover recovery for life long psychological or physical rehabilitation.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been in an accident and you suspect the other driver was texting or engaged in another unlawful distraction, then please contact the car accident attorneys at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers, PLLC. We can help you seek compensation so that you are able to fully recover from your accident. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.