Texting and Driving Accidents
Distracted driving causes an estimated nine deaths, and over 1,000 injuries every single day. Injured motorists and their family members incur billions of dollars in economic losses, including lost wages and medical expenses to recover from their injuries.
For these reasons, Georgia has taken steps to eliminate distracted driving, but far too many drivers are texting on the phone when they should be paying attention to the road. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact a Georgia distracted driving lawyer as soon as possible.Distracted Driving is a Serious Problem
The numbers are in, and in many ways distracted driving is far worse than driving under the influence of alcohol. Texting is one of the main reasons that Americans are so distracted on the road. Consider the following statistics:
- According to the U.S. government, 11% of drivers aged 18-20 involved in car accidents were texting at the time they crashed.
- Around 40% of teenagers have reported that they were in a car when the driver used a cell phone while the vehicle was moving.
- As reported in one 2014 poll, 37% of Americans admitted to drinking and driving. However, the numbers were even higher for texting. About 45% of respondents admitted to reading a text message while driving!
With numbers like these, is it any wonder that Georgia prohibits texting while driving? Or that Georgia prohibits all cell phone use by teenage drivers?Why Texting is so Dangerous
According to a study out of the United Kingdom, drivers who text perform worse than drivers who are legally intoxicated in terms of alertness and response. It is easy enough to understand why.
For one thing, reading a text takes one hand off the wheel as you hold the phone. If you send a text, you probably will remove both hands, so you lose all control over the vehicle for several seconds. Even more importantly, texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road. This is where the real danger comes in, especially if the vehicle is moving fast.
Consider this: if your vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, then in about five seconds it will travel the length of an entire football field. Now imagine that your eyes are closed. This is basically what it is like to be traveling that fast and sending or reading a text message.
Furthermore, texting is dangerous even if your vehicle is not traveling very fast. Pedestrians are more likely to shoot out in front of you if your vehicle is going slowly. For example, if you read a text message while sitting at an intersection, you might not see someone step into the intersection after the “Do Not Walk” sign lights up. If you look up and hit the accelerator when the light is green, you dramatically increase your chances of running over someone who entered the crosswalk late.Promoting Driver Safety
Because texting is such a menace to motorists on the road, we all owe each other a duty not to text while driving. Teenagers especially need adults to model proper driving behavior. If your children observe you texting and driving, they could quickly pick up the habit.
Remember the following:
- Store your phone securely in a location where you will not be tempted to pick it up and start texting. This is an important step if you are trying to break an addiction to texting while behind the wheel. You could store the phone in the trunk of your car. If you put it in the glove compartment, you will be tempted to reach over and pull the phone out.
- Pull off the road if you need to send a text. Also, try to read emails and make phone calls while pulled over. You can get more done if you do all work-related communications at the same time.
- If you can’t find any rest areas, pull over onto the side of the road and put your flashers on.
- Teach your children not to text and drive and remind them that it isn't okay just because their friends do it.
By following these simple steps, you can keep yourself and your family safe when out on the road.Proving Texting and Driving Caused a Crash
If you believe that someone struck you while driving distracted, it is up to you to prove that fact. To receive compensation, you will need to show that the driver did not operate their motor vehicle with sufficient care.
In Georgia, you make out a case for negligence by proving the following:
- The driver who struck you owed you a duty of care. Generally, this is easy to prove, since the law imposes a duty on drivers to be careful so as not to injure the motorists around them.
- The driver fell below the duty of care. Texting while driving breaches this duty of care.
- You suffered a legally recognizable injury. Any bodily injury will qualify, such as broken bones, concussion, back injury, burns, strains, sprains, and nerve damage.
- The driver’s lack of care was the cause of your injury. So long as the collision caused your injuries, this element should be easy to prove.
These four elements are all required in order to bring a successful negligence lawsuit. However, in our experience, as Georgia distracted driving lawyers, most cases turn on the second element—whether the driver was operating the motor vehicle with sufficient care.
As the person bringing the lawsuit, you have the burden of presenting evidence to show the driver was texting. You might do this in one of several ways:
- The driver might admit to talking on the phone.
- A passenger might testify that the driver was talking on the phone and distracted before the crash.
- You might be able to subpoena the driver’s cell phone records that show he or she was texting in the moments before the collision.
- Surveillance video might capture the driver on the phone in the moments before the crash.
- In a head-on collision, you might have seen the driver looking down at something. You might also find a phone in the car. You can ask a jury to infer that the driver was looking at their phone during the crash.
Each case turns on its own facts, but an experienced Georgia distracted driving attorney can help you pull together the evidence you need.