Skip to content

How to Stay Safe on Georgia Highways

How to Stay Safe on Georgia Highways Each of us has a responsibility to observe the rules of the road. However, while you can take steps to minimize the risks of causing an accident, there are circumstances that will always be outside your ability to control. Driver errors, mechanical failures, and sudden changes can and do happen in an instant.

In 2019, there were 404,004 crashes on Georgia highways resulting in a total of 1,417 fatalities and 147,046 injuries. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (“GDOT”) Crash Data Portal, some 76% of fatal crashes were caused by unsafe driving behaviors.

Here is what you should do when you see other drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors, including distracted driving, driving under the influence, and reckless or aggressive operation.

First and foremost, being safe starts with you; your behavior on the road can be the difference between life and death, and little things can have big impacts. As a driver, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and any passengers in your vehicle and are obligated to operate your vehicle in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. Wearing a seatbelt is not just a good idea, it is the law in Georgia, and no occupants are exempt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Injury Center:

  • Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
  • Seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives in 2017.
  • Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts. Air bags plus seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.

In addition to ensuring proper vehicle maintenance and wearing safety restraints, eliminating distractions while driving is the third major factor that can help avoid dangerous situations on the road. Georgia has some of the most comprehensive “Hands Free” laws in the country, and for good reason. Heads Up Georgia explains that “[t]he 15 states that have passed hands-free driving laws saw a 16 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in the two years after the law was passed. In addition, traffic fatalities were reduced even further in subsequent years.”

Studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving is equivalent to driving while intoxicated. However, even hands-free use is not free of risk. Per LiveScience, “Those talking on either handheld or hands-free cell phones drove slightly slower, were 9 percent slower to hit the brakes when necessary, showed 24 percent more variation in following distance, and were 19 percent slower to resume normal speed after braking.” This happens for one simple reason. Speaking to a passenger in the vehicle means that the conversation is happening while both parties are aware of their surroundings. When you are on the phone, the other party is completely unaware of (and cannot respond to) changes in traffic conditions.

These are all actions you can take to be a safer driver, but what happens when other drivers are acting erratically?

What to do if you suspect a drunk driver

If you see a vehicle struggling to maintain a lane, swerving, or braking erratically, you may suspect that the driver is intoxicated. The first thing to do is to ensure your own safety. Keep your distance and try not to attract any attention to yourself. If possible, take the next exit or change your route altogether. Know, too, that reporting the erratic driver may save lives. Monitech suggests the following steps after observing a suspected drunk driver:

  1. Pull over or call hands-free; do not handle your cellphone while driving.
  2. Report the exact location, route, direction of the vehicle, and cross streets.
  3. Provide the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle.
  4. Describe the manner in which the vehicle was being driven to explain why you think the driver is impaired.

Again, your own safety is paramount, but following these steps has the potential to cause more good than harm. If the driver is not drunk, no charges will be filed. If the driver is drunk, your actions may avert devastating consequences for other motorists, pedestrians, or even the impaired driver.

How to respond to aggressive drivers

In a nutshell, refusing to engage with aggressive drivers is the best course of action. When a driver is tailgating or otherwise harassing you on the road, evaluate your actions to ensure that you are maintaining the correct course and speed. Simply staying your course and refusing to engage with another driver can sometimes be enough to deescalate the situation. Per Automotive Fleet:

The best thing you can do when a hostile driver is on your tail is to simply pull over into a parking lot or rest stop. Let the aggressive driver move on and take a few moments to yourself to regain your composure before getting back on the road. If a driver with road rage follows you even as you pull off the road, be cautious. Keep your windows shut and your doors locked, and call 911.

While these two situations are among the most common you can expect to encounter on Georgia highways, the same general principles apply in nearly every situation.

Regardless of how diligent and composed you are as a driver, there will always be circumstances beyond your control. More than 6,100 people were seriously injured in 2020 alone, despite significantly fewer crashes than the previous five years. When you or a loved one is seriously injured in a crash, you need an experienced legal team on your side. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers demand justice for your family. To discuss your case with one of our attorneys, you can contact us to schedule a free, confidential appointment or call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847 or our Savannah office at 912-417-3774.




Scroll To Top