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Distracted Driving & Disregard of Seat Belt Laws Led to Increase of 2016 GA Death Toll

January 31, 2017

Georgia continues to be plagued by distracted and irresponsible drivers who put themselves and others at increased risk. Georgia increased again in 2016, just as they had the year before, after consistently falling each year between 2006 and 2014. Fatalities on Georgia roadways topped 1,450 in 2016, surpassing the 1,432 deaths that occurred in 2015. Georgia's Department of Transportation and Georgia's state police indicated that the primary reasons for this increase were distracted driving and the lack of seatbelts, notwithstanding that Georgia has enacted laws intended to minimize both.

Our state police continue to be concerned by distracted driving, defined by the NHTSA as any non-driving activity that takes a driver's eyes off the road. Distracted driving is serious problem, not only in Georgia but nationally. There are numerous reasons behind distracted driving, including inappropriate use of cell phones and other hand-held devices (particularly texting), grooming, eating and drinking, lack of focus while using GPS devices, changing CDs or MP3 players or radio stations, reading maps, talking to passengers, and watching videos. However, by far, the most concerning is texting. Many states, including Georgia, have enacted laws intended to address inattentiveness resulting from using hand-held devices while driving. Georgia is among those states that have banned texting. Still, there is significant concern in Georgia and nationally that the law has not gone far enough to discourage drivers from using these devices. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that approximately 660,000 U.S. drivers use hand-held devices at any given moment. Many drivers prefer that government not pass laws designed to manage their busy lives and activities, believing that they, not the state or federal government, can best determine whether to take a chance and engage in statistically risky behavior. Nevertheless, the rising death totals continue to challenge whether individual freedom of choice outweighs public interest in safety. Georgia's legislature will once again take on this issue in its 2017 session when it considers whether to ban talking on cell phones altogether unless the driver uses a hands-free device.

Similarly, disregard of seat belt laws is another reason for the increase in fatalities on Georgia roadways. Georgia has in place seat-belt laws requiring front seat occupants and children to wear restraining seat belts, with certain exceptions. O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1. Nonetheless, Georgia's Department of Transportation reports that 56% of those who died in car accidents on Georgia roadways in 2016 were not wearing seat belts, a statistic that Georgia's state police find both troublesome and depressing as stated in a report by Atlanta's NBC affiliate last December. As with hand-held devices, driver disregard of seat belt laws is frequently a matter of ill-advised decision-making. Drivers would be best to take a moment to consider their personal safety and that of their loved ones before starting out on the roadways without buckling up.

State police will continue to enforce appropriate use of seat belts during their patrol of Georgia Highways, but they strongly encourage drivers to pay careful attention to their own safety while driving and heed Georgia laws.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 39 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Accident Claim!

Montlick and Associates is concerned by the rising death tolls on Georgia roadways and encourage all drivers to look out for their own safety. If, however, you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a serious automobile accident resulting from the negligence of a distracted or careless driver, we are available to assist you. 

With more than 39 years of experience, Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, continues to provide legal representation to clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries from a variety of accidents. Our Georgia Car Accident Attorneys fight for the rights of their clients to the fullest extent possible. 

Our law firm has over 39 years of experience in representing car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Sources: (Official U.S. government website for distracted driving)

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Category: Auto Accidents

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