Recent studies have shown that distracted driving can be just a dangerous as driving under the influence. Smartphones have become a part of our daily lives, and because of that, distracted driving is becoming more common across the nation. What’s even worse is that many people don’t understand the dangers of driving distracted. Drunk driving claims an estimated 10,000 lives per year, and distracted driving is on its way to becoming just as dangerous, claiming an average of 3,500 lives annually.
Drunk Driving and Distracted Driving Defined
In Georgia, it is prohibited to control or operate a vehicle:
With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher (.04% or more if the driver is operating a commercial vehicle and .02% or more if the driver is under 21 years old)
While “under the influence” of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance, or
With any amount of illegal drugs in your system
Many people are under the impression that distracted driving only means texting and driving. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Simply put, distracted driving can be any activity that causes you to take your eyes off the road. This includes:
- Using your phone
- Doing make-up
- Paying attention to passengers
- Changing the radio
- Looking at your GPS
As you can see, even the simplest of tasks can be considered distracted driving. Distracted driving can be broken down even further into three groups.
The first is visual; this is when the distraction causes you to take your eyes off the road. This is the most common, as many, if not all distractions will cause you to take your eyes away from the road.
The next is manual; this is when your hands or legs are taken away from driving. This may include tying your shoes, texting while driving, or any other activity that may cause you to use your arms or legs.
The last is cognitive; this is when the distraction causes your focus to shift off the road. This may be something like talking to another passenger in the car or being preoccupied with work, family, or personal issues.
The Real Issue
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel, as it showcases all three of the distracted driving groups. An average text message response takes 5 seconds, and in that time, a vehicle can cover the length of a football field. Imagine all the things that can happen in that time. This is why it’s so important to understand the negative impact distracted driving may have.
Drunk driving is even more fatal and is something that many people know about. Most people are aware of the damage that drunk driving can cause. However, that doesn’t stop a reckless person from choosing to put other’s lives at risk by getting behind the wheel after they have been drinking. Studies show that the number of DUI accidents has been steadily decreasing, and they believe it to be linked to more people understanding the severity of driving under the influence.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about distracted driving, as that number is continually rising. Whether it is due to new technology developing, which adds distractions, or the fact that people aren’t aware of the accidents and injuries that distracted driving may cause, there needs to be a change to ensure more safety on the road.
In an effort to bring about change, Georgia enacted its Hand-Free Law (HB672) on July 1, 2018. The Hands-Free Law prohibits all drivers operating a motor vehicle on any highway in the State of Georgia from:
- Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device;
- Writing, sending, or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail, or internet data.
- Watching, recording, or broadcasting any video or movie.
Which Is Worse?
The bottom line is that both forms of driving are extremely dangerous and put the lives of all drivers on the road at risk. They are both capable of taking lives and causing serious damage to all parties involved.
Both will be reasons for punishment according to state law, which means there will be great legal penalties for participating in such events. Before you take your eyes off the road or step behind the wheel after drinking, be sure to remember the consequences.
Have You Been Injured Due to the Negligence of Someone Else?
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a driver under the influence, or someone who was driving distracted, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney promptly. It will be important to preserve evidence related to the distracted driving so that you can be fully compensated for what you were forced to endure.
Following your accident, there may be piles of medical bills, time away from work, interference in your ability to do the things you used to enjoy, along with many other negative impacts on your life. It is our job here at The Dickinson Law Firm to ensure you receive what is fair compensation following an accident involving a driver under the influence or distracted driver. Let us help you hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
Call us today at (770) 766-7739 to learn how we can help over a free case evaluation.