Although the state of Georgia passed a ban on texting while driving in July of 2010, state records reveal that fewer than 50 people per month have been convicted of the offense since the passage of that law. State troopers say the law—while a good start—is difficult to enforce. The police officer must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver behind the wheel was actually texting, not dialing a number or talking, which can be difficult barring other witnesses.
Other states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Nevada have enacted even stricter laws, banning the use of any type of handheld cell phone. This means police officers in those states are not required to prove the driver was texting—only that they had a cell phone in their hand.
The Dangers of Texting While Driving
Even less of a deterrent, the penalty for texting while driving in Georgia is a mere $150 fine plus one point on the offender’s driving record. Gwinnett County happens to be the only county in Georgia where enforcement of the no-texting law is more than minimal. In fact, more texting drivers were convicted in Gwinnett County than in all other Georgia counties combined. Despite the dearth of public service announcements and news reports of fatalities due to texting, many people seem to feel they are exempt from the no-texting rule or that the practice really isn’t as dangerous as many believe it to be. Contrary to these beliefs, studies show that texting drivers are a whopping 23 times more likely to crash than those who are not texting and that the driver’s eyes leave the road for an average of 4.6 seconds each time they send or receive a text. This is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded if your car is traveling 55 mph.
Accidents Due to Texting While Driving
The state of Georgia attributes nearly 4,000 crashes last year to cell phone use (including texting) resulting in nine fatalities and 955 serious injuries. There are three types of distracted driving: visual (removing your eyes from the road), cognitive (letting your mind wander from your driving) and manual (taking your hands from the wheel). Texting is particularly dangerous as it combines all three forms of distraction. Driving a vehicle and texting is considered to be six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of auto accidents and fatalities among teenage drivers—replacing drinking while driving. So, while the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths has dropped nearly 52% since 1982, non-alcohol related traffic fatalities have jumped 78%–likely due in large part to driver’s texting while behind the wheel.
Drivers must ask themselves if seeing a text sent to them immediately or answering a text is really worth the potential of causing a serious or fatal auto accident. Like any form of distracted driving, when your attention is away from the road—even for a few short seconds—the odds of having an accident increase exponentially. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a texting driver the attorneys of McLeod Law Firm want to help.
We are committed to our clients and proud of our experience and track record. While every case is different we will listen to the specific details of your accident then clearly detail your options. We believe you deserve a highly seasoned advocate in your corner who will work hard to ensure you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.