Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016 alone, 3,450 people were killed. In 2015, 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. There is also research that suggests that using a cell phone makes a driver as dangerous as an intoxicated driver.
Currently, you are not allowed to input text while driving, but are allowed to hold a cellular telephone for a call. HB 673, which is expected to be signed by the Governor and go into effect in July, will change all that. After the passage of that bill, drivers in this state will no longer be able to hold a cell phone or even have it rest on their body for any reason. A driver will still be able to use a cell phone hands-free in a mounted device. The only touching allowed will be a “single button” to start or end a call.
Distracted driving is the cause of many serious accidents a year. Oftentimes, it is hard to prove in court that the driver was distracted. Prior to the enactment of this law, simply holding a phone was not illegal, because the driver could be holding the phone for a permissive use such as a phone call vs. an impermissible use such as texting or the input of text data into an app. Law enforcement will now have an easy time to issue a citation to distracted drivers. The penalties are fines which increase with each subsequent violation, in addition to having points added to your license. The first violation is one point, the second violation is two points, and the third or subsequent violation is three points.
This article is provided for general information only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Kenneth Crawford is a lawyer practicing personal injury law in Dougalsville and West Georgia. He handles car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice and other cases. Call (770) 920-2000 for a free consultation today.