Driving while distracted can have immense consequences. A distracted driver includes anyone who takes eyes, hands, or attention away from the task of driving. Driving while distracted can cause drivers to lose track of what happens on the road around them or completely miss the presence of other drivers and vehicles on the road, raising the risk of an accident.
What does Georgia’s law have to say about distracted driving? Drivers in Georgia may need to take several key things under consideration.
Georgia Code § 40-6-241 (2018) notes, “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” This provision leaves room for any potentially dangerous or distracting behaviors out on the road, all of which could result in a catastrophic accident and injury for both the people in the vehicle and others around them. General distraction can pose a serious problem for many drivers, including:
- Taking eyes off the road, which means that drivers cannot see what takes place around them
- Taking hands off the wheel, which leaves the driver unable to control the vehicle
- Taking attention away from the task of driving, which may make it very difficult for the driver to keep up with everything that takes place on the road
When most people think of distracted driving, they usually start thinking about things like using a phone in the car, including texting and driving, checking email, or potentially answering the phone. However, distracted driving behaviors can include any behavior that prevents the driver from paying adequate attention to the actual task of driving, including behaviors that many drivers may take for granted, like changing the music playing or changing temperature controls in the vehicle. Using a GPS device can also prove very distracting, especially when the driver focuses more on the GPS than on the task of driving and everything that goes along with it.
Georgia law, like many states’ distracted driving laws, also includes regulations regarding the use of handheld devices, most notably phones, while behind the wheel. According to Georgia law, drivers cannot:
- Touch or support the phone with any part of their body while talking on it. That means that in Georgia, drivers cannot tuck a phone between shoulder and ear while chatting, which could decrease mobility and make it more difficult for the driver to respond to a potential emergency event on the road.
- Interact with text messages while driving. That includes reading, writing, and sending messages.
- Interact with social media, including reading or posting, while driving.
- Record video while driving. Some drivers have, in the past, attempted to record video while driving, which can take their hands and attention away from the wheel and make it more difficult for them to keep up with the task of driving.
- Touch a phone to change a music station or other music content. Drivers in Georgia who need to interact with their phones to set music should do so before getting behind the wheel.
Georgia distracted driving law also prohibits school bus drivers from using any type of cellular device at all while driving, including talking on the phone.
The Consequences of Distracted Driving
Drivers who choose to drive while distracted despite the known dangers can face considerable consequences.
A driver who gets caught driving while distracted can face considerable legal consequences. Officers who observe distracted driving may quickly pull the driver over and issue a citation to help correct that behavior and keep everyone on the road safer.
- For the first conviction, drivers can receive a $50 fine and 1 point on their license.
- For a second conviction, drivers can face a fine of $100 and 2 points on their license.
- Drivers caught driving while distracted a third or more time can face a $150 fine and 3 points on their license.
Subsequent convictions, according to Georgia law, must occur within 24 months of the original offense in order to count as a second or third conviction. Points on a driver’s license can mean increasing insurance rates and higher potential penalties for future dangerous driving incidents. After accumulating 15 or more points on the license within a 24-month period, Georgia drivers may have their license suspended.
Liability for a Collision
Distracted driving contributes to an estimated 424,000 crashes across the United States each year. A distracted driver may end up bearing full or partial liability for any accident caused or contributed to by that distracted behavior. Looking away for even a moment can prevent drivers from responding appropriately to accidents on the road, which can lead to serious injuries. Distracted drivers who cause an accident may end up with significant, often long-term consequences for those actions.
- Increases in insurance rates.
- Increased points on the license, which can increase the risk of losing the license.
- Difficulty getting a job that requires driving.
- Loss of a job that involves driving.
In addition, a distracted driver may face the reality that he has caused a devastating accident that resulted in serious injury, property damage, or even loss of life due to his negligent behaviors.
Filing a Claim After a Distracted Driving Accident in Georgia
If you face injuries due to a Georgia distracted driving accident, you may have the right to file a claim that will allow you to pursue compensation for your injuries. Distracted driving may not automatically mean that the other driver bears full liability for the accident. However, a distracted driver will often bear at least partial liability for a car accident, which means that you may have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered because of that negligent behavior. At Cambre & Associates, we help our clients pursue compensation for distracted driving accidents. Contact us to learn more about the compensation you may deserve after an accident with a distracted driver in Georgia.