The Fine Line Often Crossed in Cases of Distracted Driving
Recently a driver was ticketed in Cobb County, Georgia for “distracted driving.” The officer noted in the comments section that the driver was “eating while driving.” There was a tremendous backlash and outrage over this incident. The prosecutor has dismissed the charge.
What’s the Definition of “Distracted Driving”?
But how do you know what distracted driving is and how to prevent getting a ticket. It is not per se against the law to eat while driving. However, the law does state that “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions, which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” This statute gives a police officer wide latitude in deciding whether someone is engaged in “distracted driving.”
The “distracted driving” statute does allow for the proper use of a radio, citizens band radio, mobile telephone, or amateur or ham radio. However, there are laws prohibiting the use of a cell phone by drivers under 18 years except in certain emergency situations. Also, there is the so-called texting while driving statute.
This statute prohibits the use of any “wireless telecommunications devices” to write, send, or read any text-based communications. “Wireless telecommunications devices” are defined to include a cell phone, text messaging device, personal digital assistant, stand-alone computer or any other similar wireless devices. “Text-based communications” not only means “texts” but also instant messages, e-mails, and Internet data.
Exceptions to the Rules
There are exceptions to this statute as well that have to do with reporting traffic accidents and reporting the perpetration of a crime. Certain public utility employees and emergency personnel are exempted while performing their duties. Also, the “texting while driving” statute exempts a person while in a motor vehicle which is lawfully parked.
It is unlikely that you will be ticketed for eating while driving unless your vehicle is all over the road. However, it pays to be careful and not do anything in your vehicle which would lead the police to believe you are distracted from driving safely.
Anyone using a cell phone while behind the wheel is guilty of distracted driving. This type of risk has really taken an upswing since the smartphones and other types of portable electronic devices have hit the market. Drivers who text and drive or take photos while driving can take an extra second or two that is necessary to react to situations and avoid accidents. There has been a lot of accidents caused by drivers playing with electronic gadgets as they are driving (mainly texting).
There are Also Other Kinds of Driver Distractions
The government defines ‘distracted driving’ this way – “any activity able to divert a drivers attention from their primary task of safe driving”. There are many other driving distractions that may lead to accidents as well –
- Looking at Passengers While Conversing
- Eating and/or Drinking
- Reading Maps or Books
- Watching Videos
- Adjusting the Music on Whatever Device You Play
and you could probably write an entire page of other distractions that can put you in danger.
Another drawback to driver distractions is the hardships they can lead to. In cases where there is no loss of life, there are still people who can get hurt, and lawsuits that are filed. Cases like these are settled all the time and for people, without the kind of money to go to court, this can be a really stressful undertaking.
Even reasonable settlements can still hurt. It just makes more sense to leave your electronic devices alone while you drive. Waiting for a settlement can cause both parties to see their attorney fees continue to increase while the settlement figure will remain the same. Why risk it? Taking your cell phone with you in case of an emergency is definitely a good idea. However, playing with it just for the sake of playing is simply not wise.
Cracking Down On Distracted Drivers
There are those who believe that driving while texting has become this generation’s version of a DUI. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 20 percent of the car accidents in the United States are caused by driver distractions such as eating, looking at maps, talking or texting on the phone, or even talking to others in the car.
Per the NHTSA, the cell phone is the top culprit of distracted driving. Driving and talking on a cell phone can be just as hazardous as driving and drinking. According to research done by the National Safety Council, a driver on a cell phone has about the same reaction time as a driver with a .08 blood alcohol level. He also has a delayed reaction time to cars that stop abruptly.
Lawyers Make Distracted Drivers Suffer the Consequences
Drivers who are easily distracted are very dangerous to others on the road. In the State of Georgia, it is against the law for bus drivers or anyone under the age of 18 to use a cell phone while driving. Also, traffic tickets are issued to anyone who texts and drives.
If you or someone that you know has suffered because of distracted driving, an attorney at our law firm will prove that the other driver was at fault. It is very important that you call us immediately. We will seek to demand from the responsible party’s insurance company that you be compensated for the following:
- Doctor and Hospital Bills
- Missed Income
- Work Rehab
- Pain and Suffering (past, present and future)
- Wrongful Death
We will take a look at all driver logs, safety rules, police reports, traffic tickets, witness records and other information pertaining to your claim. We will make sure that your rights are protected and that your claim is not ignored or refused.
If you or a loved is facing a traffic violation conviction, speaking with an experienced distracted driving attorney may be your best option. Contact Cobb County attorney Diana Whipkey Young to schedule a consultation today at 770-795-9596.