The Results of Texting and Driving
Accidents caused by texting and driving have increased substantially throughout the years. Nearly two million accidents are caused by texting and driving each year, making up almost 25% of accidents around the nation.
Teen deaths due to texting and driving have risen to more than ten daily. Most teens report that texting while driving is the number one reason for distraction. In fact, you are substantially more at risk of causing an accident while texting and driving than you are if you are driving under the influence.
Distracted Driving Accidents
With distracted driving being a leading cause of accidents, it is important to avoid distractions while driving at all costs.
Some easy ways to avoid distractions are to shut off your phone or silence it while in the car. It is good practice to turn your phone on silent as you enter the vehicle or shut it off as you put on your seatbelt. This can ensure you won’t have to avoid a notification while driving. If necessary, you can pull over where it is safe and check your phone to return texts or calls that have occurred while you are traveling.
Parents must set an example for their teens in this practice as well. Parents can emulate proper behavior that their children can learn from, such as placing their phones in their bag/purse or glove box while driving. A phone can be a necessary tool to have with you in the event of an accident or other dangers, but it does not have to be accessible while driving.
Other Tips to Ensure Safe Driving
Some apps have been created to help avoid distracted driving. You can research what may work best for you or your teen and download an app on their phones to inhibit them from getting or sending texts while driving.
Assigning a designated texter while in the car can also be helpful. For example, you can select a passenger to handle all incoming calls and texts while the driver is operating the vehicle, so they aren’t distracted.
Many vehicles are equipped with Bluetooth so operators can receive calls while driving safely. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, there are other devices on the market that you can invest in that may help you to receive calls or make them while driving, which can help to avoid fumbling for the phone or dialing while in traffic.
What is the Hands-Free Law in Georgia?
Georgia enacted the Hands-Free Law in 2018. This law makes it illegal for anyone to have their phone or other mobile devices in their hands while driving.
Hands-free technology such as voice text, earphones, or Bluetooth devices is allowed. It is important to note that using headphones while driving is only legal when making phone calls and not for listening to music. Listening to music while driving doesn’t allow the driver to be fully aware of noises around them, such as honking horns or emergency vehicle sirens that they need to move out of the way.
Drivers are not allowed to view any videos while driving unless the video is specifically designed for navigation purposes.
Drivers are prohibited from reading or sending text messages while driving unless they can utilize a talk-to-text option.
Streaming music is allowed via your mobile device if you have started the music while parked before traveling.
Exceptions to the Hands-Free Law
There are a few exceptions that apply to the Hands-Free Law in Georgia. Drivers can use their phones to report emergencies such as accidents, criminal activity, hazardous conditions, and more.
First responders and other emergency personnel are exempt from the Hands-Free laws while on the job. When they are not on the clock or not operating an emergency vehicle, they are subject to the same laws as other drivers on the roads.
In some cases, utility workers are exempt from the Hands-Free law while performing their job duties.
What if My Vehicle is Stopped at a Red Light or Stop Sign?
If you have safely parked your vehicle, the Hands-Free laws don’t apply. If you are stopped at a red light or a stop sign, this doesn’t mean that you can now use your phone. You must be parked safely out of the way of other drivers on the roadway.
If you must check your phone while driving, you can pull over safely and use your phone as necessary while your car is parked.
What Are the Fines for Violating the Hands-Free Law?
In general, the first offense will result in one point on your record and a fine of $50 for violating the Hands-Free law. However, with second and third offenses, the fines can increase, as well as the penalties. If you are found guilty of several offenses in a short time, you may lose your license entirely.
My Teen Was Injured By Someone Texting and Driving. What Can I Do?
As stated above, texting and driving leads to several accidents and even death daily. The statistics show that we must be an example for our children so they choose safer driving methods.
If your teen or yourself was injured due to a driver texting and driving, you have legal options to protect yourself and your family. Contact our office today at (706) 954-6745 to learn more about how we can best assist you. Our team has worked tirelessly for years to help our clients defend their rights and become their advocates.