Earlier this summer, Georgia reached a milestone that largely went unnoticed. It was two years ago on July 1 that the state enacted its ban on handheld cellphone use behind the wheel. The law prohibits texting and similar actions while driving as well as talking on the phone (unless the driver can do so using Bluetooth or another hands-free option).
Those who violate the law can face fines of $50, $100 and $150 for first, second and third offenses, respectively. They also accrue license points. Unfortunately, however, these consequences don’t seem to be significant enough to greatly change driver behavior. According to news reports, law enforcement officers in Georgia have issued nearly 50,000 citations in just two years to drivers caught violating the hands-free law.
While the law may have reduced these behaviors some, there are still far too many drivers who don’t seem to appreciate just how dangerous distracted driving is – especially distractions caused by a cellphone.
Safety advocates note that distracted driving is any action:
- That takes your eyes off the road (visual distraction)
- That takes your hands off the wheel (manual distraction)
- That takes your mind off the task of driving (cognitive distraction)
Texting while driving is particularly hazardous because it involves all three types of distraction. But using a handheld cellphone only lowers that down to two (after dialing, of course). To be sure, hands-free device use isn’t entirely safe. It still takes your attention off the task of driving. But it is certainly better than the alternative ways to use a cellphone behind the wheel.
Regardless of what the specific distracted driving laws say, everyone in Georgia has a duty to drive carefully and in a way that minimizes the risk of harm to others. Those who choose to engage in distraction and greatly injure others as a result can and should be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a negligent distracted driver, please contact our firm to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.