Georgia Law Banning Texting While Driving May Be Ineffective
Distracted driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents resulting in over 6,000 deaths and over 515,000 people being injured annually in police reported motor vehicle crashes. These numbers are growing with the widespread use of cell phones and particularly the growing popularity of texting. Estimates place the total number of texting related auto accident deaths at over 16,000.
The serious danger posed by texting while driving led Georgia and 30 other states to ban the practice. However, new data suggests that the laws making it illegal to text while driving do not seem to be effective. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing those injured by distracted drivers throughout the State of Georgia and the Southeast for over 35 years.
Distracted driving related accident rates have risen sharply with the development of electronic devices commonly used by drivers, including cell phones, GPS navigation devices, IPods and PDAs. It is estimated that distracted driving plays a role in over 80% of all motor vehicle accidents whereas drunk driving is a factor in only 33%. Distracted driving accident rates appeared to be declining between 1999-2005 but have grown dramatically since that time. This increase is largely attributable to cell phone use including texting while driving. Studies suggest that at any moment in time as many as 800,000 people are driving while using their cell phone. A person is four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident if they are using a handheld device like a cell phone while driving. And one significant study showed that you are 23 times more likely to be in a car acccident if you text while driving!
New studies suggest that the bans on texting while driving may have actually increased the risk posed by distracted drivers engaged in texting while driving. There has actually been an increase in the number of texting related fatalities since the bans have gone into effect. Traffic safety experts believe that the laws have not deterred drivers from the practice, but merely encouraged them to hide such behavior. Drivers who are trying to disguise their practice of texting while they drive may be even more distracted then a driver who is openly texting.
Many law enforcement officials and traffic safety experts indicate that the laws prohibiting texting have been largely ineffective in preventing texting related traffic fatalities for two reasons. One reason is that enforcement is difficult. If cell phones have uses that are not prohibited while driving, it can be difficult to determine that a driver is actually texting while driving. A driver can also disguise such activity making it difficult to detect. In addition to the challenges in enforcing the ban, it is suggested that the penalties are not severe enough. The penalty for texting while driving in Georgia is a $150 fine and one point on one's driving record. When a low probability of being caught is combined with a relatively minor penalty, many motorists dismiss the risk of being caught and punished.
A number of solutions have been proposed including banning any use of a cell phone while driving and significantly increasing the penalties for violating the driving while texting ban. The cell phone industry is also exploring technology that would prevent using a cell phone once a vehicle reaches a certain speed. Until some solution is found, people throughout the Atlanta area and elsewhere throughout Georgia will continue to be involved in serious texting related auto accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
If you or someone you love is involved in a serious auto accident, call Montlick & Associates today to see how our Georgia car accident lawyers can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.