In a recent post, we offered a review of Georgia’s hands free laws. We also mentioned the ongoing debate about whether the law is effective and enforceable. In this post, we offer readers a more in-depth look at how the hands free law is impacting driver behavior and auto accident statistics.
If you have questions about the hands free law and your legal rights, or have questions about an auto accident you were involved in, contact The Embry Law Firm.
Georgia Drivers and the Hands Free Law
Even though the hands free law went in effect on July 1, 2018, most of us have continued to see drivers using mobile devices while behind the wheel. You may have seen someone texting at a red light, holding their phone and the steering wheel in a delicate balance, or overcorrecting as they realize that they are distracted to the point of veering into oncoming traffic.
With this in mind, many of us are wondering if the law is really changing driver behaviors. One media source stated that “more drivers may be getting the message” about the tightening hands free laws, if by “getting the message you mean getting tickets”. Those words may be true, indeed.
Between July and December 2018, a reported 8,389 Georgia drivers were ticketed for distracted driving. These tickets were not just in the Metro Atlanta area, but were issued across the state. While it certainly suggests an increase in law enforcement involvement in distracted driving situations, it is difficult to determine whether drivers are really changing their behavior. There are some who believe that the law has only caused drivers to hide their mobile activities. Others believe that the panic drivers get when they look up from their phone and see a police car nearby could lead to more auto accidents as they struggle to regain composure.
Hands Free Law and Auto Accident Rates
With Georgia drivers being ticketed at a staggering pace, we must consider if the law has impacted the number of auto accidents on Georgia roadways. In 2018, there were an estimated 1,457 fatal accidents on Georgia roadways. That number accounted for a drop in 90 deaths over 2017.
Still, Georgia has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities in the United States. Officials have stated that they believe the hands free law could be responsible for the drop in fatalities between 2017 and 2018. However, even though they are having faith in the new law, many believe that it could be several years before data really shows whether the law has impacted the number of auto accidents.
Enforcing the Hands Free Law
Like most traffic laws, there are issues with enforcing the hands free law. Law enforcement officers have stated that it is difficult to prove that a driver was using a mobile device while driving. Since the new law prohibits holding a mobile device at all, officers are hopeful that they will be able to better identify dangerous drivers and prevent accidents from occurring. Now, officers have laws to back them up and support their efforts to stop distracted drivers.
Officers are looking for drivers who are distracted by their phones, food, reading materials, makeup, or anything else that takes their eyes off the road. Some officers in Georgia have reported seeing fewer drivers with their phones in hand.
In many ways, there may be a learning curve as officers learn how to manage the new law and work with drivers who are being pulled over. There is also a learning curve for drivers as they break a bad habit. Officers have commented that many drivers were not happy with being pulled over or ticketed in the beginning, but now more drivers are complying without resisting the law.
Been Injured in an Accident Involving Distracted Driving?
If you have been injured in an auto accident involving distracted driving, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the distracted driver. Whether he or she was texting, eating, applying makeup, or simply not paying attention, distracted driving is not acceptable and should not be excused.
To find out if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim, or to learn more about your legal rights as a driver, contact The Embry Law Firm to speak with our Douglasville auto accident lawyer.