Distracted Driving Is a Common but Deadly Danger on Atlanta and Savannah Roads
Risky driver behaviors cause thousands of motor vehicle fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year. While most drivers see the risks and dangers in speeding, driving while drunk or impaired by drugs or fatigue, or not wearing a seatbelt, many distracted driving behaviors seem harmless and acceptable. Sipping a coffee, responding to a phone call from the boss, checking your hair, or briefly thinking of something else are all common, everyday activities that usually cause no harm. Yet when these quick, simple actions are performed behind the wheel, they can distract drivers’ attention from the road long enough to become dangerous and cause deadly and injurious motor vehicle accidents.
What kinds of distracted driving activities put Georgians at risk of an accident?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “activity that diverts attention from driving . . . anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” Three main types of distracted driving which happen on roads in Georgia include:
- Visual: Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway to obtain information visually.
- Manual: Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel and manipulate a device.
- Cognitive: Tasks that require the mental workload associated with thinking about something other than driving.
These types of distracted driving often overlap. Examples mentioned in NHTSA’s Driver Distraction Program include things such as talking to passengers, operating the radio, eating food, or using in-vehicle infotainment systems or portable devices to place calls, obtain directions, send texts or e-mails, and search for information. In addition, in-vehicle systems that light up or otherwise alert drivers about the condition of their vehicles may also cause distraction.
How dangerous is distracted driving to Atlanta and Savannah drivers?
Distracted driving is hazardous. On June 2, 2022, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a new report hoping to “[c]hange the social norm around distracted driving to make it completely unacceptable so all road users get home safely.”
The GHSA reported 3,142 people died in the U.S. due to distracted driving in 2020. In addition to those deaths, NHTSA estimates distracted driving accidents injure another 400,000 people yearly, noting “cell phone use while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.” The report also stated:
- Distracted incidents are “likely significantly underreported,” and such driving is widespread: potentially occurring more than 51% of baseline driving time.
- Drivers of all ages are distracted, but teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
- A “significant proportion” of American drivers engage in distracting activities, even though they are concerned about the risk of distracted driving.
- “The use of wireless devices is rampant, and many drivers use their phones behind the wheel.”
In 2020 The National Safety Council (NSC) examined the dangers of cell phone use during driving. The NSC explained the proliferation of cell phones had conditioned drivers to expect “constant real-time communication with work, family, friends, and social media followers.” This has led to the dangerous belief that “hours spent driving, once thought of as wasted time, could now be made ‘productive’ with [the] use of the phone.” The report relied on cognitive functioning research to explain that although many Americans believe they can “multi-task,” talking on the phone impairs driving performance by slowing information processing in the brain, making a driver “much less likely to respond to unexpected hazards in time to avoid a crash.” For example, in one simulation of highway work-zone driving, drivers with interrupted attention were 29 times more likely to be involved in a collision or near collision.
The NSC recognized that banning the use of handheld cell phones and texting as Georgia law has done was a good first step. However, given the number of cell phones used by Americans while driving and the proliferation of hands-free in-vehicle interactive systems allowing cell phone use, a total ban on all cell phone use is needed to stop that form of risky driving behavior. The report noted:
- “At any given time during the day, nearly 1 out of 10 drivers is using a cell phone.”
- “Any type of cell phone or IVIS [in-vehicle infotainment system] use by drivers is distracting, and therefore no type is safe.”
- “Hands-free devices and voice command systems create a cognitive distraction . . . [and] they may require the use of buttons or touchscreens that are also manually and visually distracting.”
The NSC report similarly found that using in-vehicle infotainment systems created visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.
Given the high number of drivers interrupting their attention by using cell phones or infotainment systems while driving, distracted driving poses a risk of creating danger and mayhem for others . If the driver is piloting a truck, the danger may be magnified because trucks weigh more than 25 times the typical weight of a standard vehicle. Similarly, where ride-share providers from services like Uber or Lyft monitor apps or cell phones to schedule clients, their interrupted attention and multi-tasking pose a danger to passengers and other vehicles.
What should I do if I have been in an accident with a distracted driver in Atlanta, Savannah, or throughout Georgia?
Suppose you have been harmed in an accident caused by a distracted driver in Atlanta, Savannah, or throughout Georgia. In that case, you will need an experienced lawyer to hold the driver and owner of the vehicle liable. You may be entitled to an award compensating you for loss or damage to your vehicle, personal injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Harris Lowry Manton LLP has experienced auto accident lawyers representing clients in Atlanta, Savannah, and throughout Georgia who will work to secure the compensation you deserve. Make an appointment with one of our leading Atlanta or Savannah distracted driving attorneys to discuss your situation. Initial consultations are free. Please phone our offices in Atlanta at 404-998-8847 or Savannah at 912-417-3774. You can also complete our contact form.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
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