Distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents in the United States. According to a study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 80% of auto accidents are caused by some kind of distraction occurring within three seconds of the accident. Because of the rapid rise of texting as most people’s primary form of communication in recent years, it has become a serious factor in distracted driving accidents.
By the Numbers
Roughly a third of drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 report reading or writing text messages while they are driving. This can cause serious problems—the average length of time a driver can safely glance away from the road is two seconds; however, most drivers who are texting take their eyes off of the road for an average of 5 seconds. This makes drivers who are texting 400% more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers who are not. All in all, there were a total of of 341,000 motor vehicle crashes involving texting in 2013, resulting in about 8 deaths per day. The age group that is most likely to send a text or an email while driving is 21-24.
Texting and Driving in Georgia
In order to mitigate the problem of accidents and deaths caused by texting and driving on US roadways, many states have now enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving and limiting all cell phone use for certain groups of drivers. Georgia’s texting and driving law is found at § 40-6-241.2 of the 2010 Georgia Code and is titled “Writing, sending, or reading text based communication while operating motor vehicle prohibited; exceptions; penalties for violation.”
The operative portion of the statute reads: “No person who is 18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.”
For the purposes of the law, a “wireless communications device” includes all cell phones, PDAs, computers, or any other wireless device that can be used to initiate or receive wireless communications.
While the language of the statute is broad, it does create several exceptions, including:
- A person reporting a traffic accident or other emergency
- A person reporting the perpetration of a crime
- A public utility employee acting within the scope of his or her employment when responding to an emergency
- Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel during the performance of official duties
- Texting in a car that is parked
Violation of this statute is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of $150.
Contact an Atlanta Auto Accident Attorney
If you’ve been involved in a auto accident and suffered injuries, you may have a claim against the other driver. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Atlanta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs, Decatur, and Lithonia.