April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to the dangers of trying to multi-task while behind the wheel. Busy professionals are notorious for this type of behavior – trying to maximize valuable work hours by getting as much done as possible, in as little time as possible. While some may consider this “mobile office” time to be an example of efficiency, it is actually very risky to pull your attention away from the road.
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. This can be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off of the steering wheel), or cognitive (taking your mind off the process of driving). Some examples of distracted driving that professionals engage in include: eating, drinking, grooming, adjusting the stereo, or programming the navigation system. But the most dangerous forms of distracted driving – especially for busy professionals – is using your cell phone while driving.
Under Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241, “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways… and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” Exceptions to this law include “the proper use of a radio, citizens band radio, mobile telephone, or amateur or ham radio…” If a Georgia driver violates this law, they can be charged with distracted driving (in addition to the traffic violation), and potentially face civil liability for any injuries caused. Georgia also has a number of laws related to cell phones and distracted driving. It is illegal for drivers 17-years-old or younger to use a cell phone while driving. It is also illegal to text while driving, no matter the driver’s age or their profession. As of the publication of this blog (April 2018), the Georgia General Assembly has approved HB673, which would require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones.
If a driver is traveling 55MPH while texting, their eyes are off the road an average of five seconds. That’s the length of a football field. For busy professionals who make a substantial amount of calls in the car, a hands-free device may seem like a good option. But, according to distracteddriving.gov, the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help avoid a crash.
Every day in the U.S., more than eight people are killed and 1,600 are injured in collisions involving a distracted driver (Source: CDC). Millennials, many of them young professionals, are considered the age group with the worst driving behaviors. Approximately 88% of millennials engage in risky, distracted driving behavior, including texting while driving, running red lights, and speeding (Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety). These behaviors increase their likelihood of collisions.
If you are a busy professional, chances are you have taken phone calls while driving, have tried to grab some breakfast or lunch or on the go, and have finished your morning grooming rituals while you are on the road. But if you are doing any of these things – it means that you are not fully concentrating on driving. Set yourself up for future success by avoiding distracted driving and being safe behind the wheel.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a collision involving a distracted driver, call Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group at (404) 436-1529 to schedule a personal injury consultation.