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Stronger Laws, Enforcement Could help Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

A new study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association finds that a combination of strategies, including stronger laws against the use of cell phones while driving, as well as stringent enforcement of these laws could significantly help reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents.

Many states, including Georgia, have been struggling with containing the distracted driving epidemic. The use of cell phones behind the wheel is rampant,  despite laws that specifically prohibit such practices. Several studies have indicated that most motorists admit to having used a cell phone while driving for texting or for having a conversation. It is only a minority of motorists that will actually turn off cell phones while driving.

Cell phone use has become an integral part of the driving experience, and for many people, the car has become an extension of the workplace.  This makes it tempting for motorists to reach out for their phones to answer a text message, read and respond to an email, or answer a phone call.  All of these are extremely distracting activities, and seriously increase the person’s risk of being involved in an accident.

Using a cell phone while driving causes you to take your eyes away from the road, and your hands away from the steering wheel. Even if you are using a hands-free device, you are still distracted by the conversation that you are having on the phone. Any kind of distraction is lethal to the driving experience, and the distractions that come from the use of electronic devices like cell phones, can be the most distracting.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recently released a report titled Using Electronic Devices while Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications.  The report was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and states that distracted driving accidents killed 3,142 people in 2019. That was an increase of nearly 10% from 2018. Currently, almost all states have laws in place that restrict the use of cell phones while driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association finds that many of these laws could be enhanced, and indeed, several states are experimenting with legislation in 2021 to strengthen their distracted driving laws.

In Georgia, the law currently prevents motorists from using a handheld electronic communication device for writing text messages and emails, or watching or broadcasting movies while driving. These restrictions apply only to handheld devices. Punishment for a first conviction is a $50 fine, and this increases to $100 and $150 for the second and third convictions.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association suggests a combination of factors including stronger laws with stricter penalties in line with other traffic citations, stringent enforcement of these laws, and investments in awareness and outreach campaigns to help significantly reduce the risks of these accidents.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured as a result of distracted driving accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, there are steps that you can take to protect your rights. Talk to a lawyer at our firm.  

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