Jones & Swanson

It Can Wait: Don’t Text and Drive

We have stressed the dangers of distracted driving in numerous posts. Perhaps the most common form of distracted driving in Georgia is that of text messaging or using a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Studies show that these actions can be more hazardous than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This may be because texting involves visual, physical and mental processes. Taking one’s attention off the road even for a second can result in a serious automobile wreck, which in turn leads to significant injuries or possibly even death for those involved in the accident.

The Department of Transportation passed a law in 2010 stating that tractor trailer and bus drivers are prohibited from sending texts while driving. Violation of this law may result in penalties as high as $2,750. In the state of Georgia, drivers are required to use due care while operating automobiles. Georgians are prohibited from performing “actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle,” according to OCGA § 40-6-241. Also, OCGA § 40-6-241.1 and OCGA § 40-6-241.2 states that Georgians are not allowed to operate an automobile while using “a wireless communications device.” This not only applies to writing, sending, or reading text messages, but also to e-mailing, instant messaging, or surfing the Internet.

Typically, Americans associate texting and driving with teenagers and young people. Unfortunately, this bad habit is not limited to a select age group. Earlier this year, AT&T performed a study which indicated that in comparison to teens, adults text more while operating a vehicle. This may be due to older generations catching up to social media and wireless device fads, which teenagers have been involved with longer. The amount of Americans that partake in distracted driving is both surprising and disappointing. Although texting while operating a vehicle is illegal in 39 states, approximately 69 percent of all U.S. drivers confessed that they use their cellular device while driving. This data is from a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps if adults led by example more often, Georgia teenagers would think twice about texting while driving.

Because of the high number of injuries and deaths caused by texting while driving accidents, the United States’ largest cell phone companies have unified to launch the first joint campaign against the act. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, along with 200 additional organizations, will unite behind the “It Can Wait” slogan created by AT&T. This campaign will cover TV and radio stations heavily this summer. According to AT&T Inc., texting while driving is an “epidemic”. According to the company’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, operating a vehicle while texting makes one 23 times more likely to cause a car accident. These four cell phone companies are in head to head competition on a daily basis, but have united due to the severity of the issue at hand.

At Jones & Swanson, we believe that any person who causes an auto accident because they were texting while driving should be held responsible. In the event that injuries or deaths occur as a result of such an accident, the texting driver should be held liable for damages to the victims involved. Many Georgians believe they will not be caught texting while driving because it cannot be proven, but this is false. Although it may be difficult to prove that a person was texting while driving, it can be done with a thorough investigation. Trial lawyers are accustomed to partaking in detailed investigations and using tools that many others do not. There is often electronic evidence of the texting activity in existence, which an experienced texting and driving attorney will find. Attorneys are able to seek discovery via the traditional tools of interrogatories, requests for production, and subpoenas. Rest assured no text is so important that you should put another person’s life in danger. Using your cell phone can wait. In the event that it cannot, simply find a safe place to stop your vehicle and make your call or send a message then.

Unfortunately, technological advances within automobiles, such as GPS, satellite radio, navigation systems, and may increase the amount of auto accidents caused by distracted driving. Perhaps along with those advancements, hands free abilities will become more common in vehicles, such as voice recognition capabilities. If you or someone you know have been seriously injured in a car wreck due to another driver who was talking on a cell phone, texting, or distracted in some other way, it is important to contact the accident attorneys at Jones & Swanson today. We offer free initial consultations at (770) 427-5498.

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