What started as concerns over distracted driving when cell phones and texting first became popular has emerged into a serious crisis, as more and more apps are developed that are leading drivers to turn their attention away from the road and onto their phones. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day, in the United States alone, more than eight people are killed and close to 1,200 injured in car accidents just due to distracted driving. And while taking your eyes off the road for several seconds—or your hands off the wheel—has its risks, interacting with your phone by texting and/or using apps is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction—visual, cognitive, and manual.
Putting this into perspective, in 2014, close to 3,200 people were killed and 430,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers, where 10 percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old were involved in fatal auto accidents and reported as distracted at the time of the crash. The statistics for 2015 are even more direr; the largest percentage increase in traffic deaths was entirely due to distracted driving.
There are some important facts about distracted driving that the public should be aware of, such as:
● It isn’t just phones: other activities—such as reaching for or looking at an object, reading, applying makeup, using a navigation device, and drowsiness—all increase crash occurrences;
● There also a “new” activity causing a serious problem on the roads: live-streaming, where drivers use apps such as Snapchat to stream a live video of themselves driving. There have been a number of drivers involved in these live-streaming accidents—and charged with reckless driving—after live-streaming a video of themselves speeding right before the accident;
● It isn’t just teens: Drivers between the ages of 25 and 45 have also been found susceptible to distracted driving; and
● Distracted driving has officially been labeled an “epidemic,” given how pervasive it has become.
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The Law in Georgia
In Georgia, cell phone use is entirely banned for school bus drivers and for novice drivers (i.e. drivers under the age of 18). All drivers—regardless of their age—are banned from text messaging while driving. Yet, according to an online survey from 2008, Georgia has the third-highest rate of drivers who text while they are behind the wheel, where 37 percent of all drivers surveyed in the state admitted to still texting while driving.
Self-Driving Cars & New Technology
Some have proposed that self-driving cars will make all the difference, as they can take human error out of the equation—but is that really the case? There have also been numerous accidents involving these cars, as human error is always a part of the equation, even when it comes to developing the software that self-driving cars operate on.
Distracted Driving Lawsuits
Aside from individual lawsuits brought by those harmed in auto accidents that occurred due to distracted driving, where drivers can not only be subject to a civil lawsuit, but also criminal penalties and jail time, some victims of car accidents are holding the companies that develop the products people are distracted with responsible. For example, Apple was recently sued over a horrific crash that was caused by texting, where those involved were either killed or rendered paraplegic. The lawsuit alleges that the company should have made the product safe by manufacturing its phone such that the phone would automatically lock-out someone’s ability to use it while driving. The claim is that, for the hundreds and hundreds of millions of consumers who bought these phones, the urge to use them, while driving, is practically irresistible.
Similarly, Snapchat—the manufacturer of the app—was also sued earlier this year here in Georgia by a man who suffered permanent brain injury after being involved in a car crash with someone who was using the app. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Snapchat’s “speed filter” encourages drivers to drive at excessive and dangerous speeds, as that speed is then captured on the video or photo taken by the app. The accident reconstruction determined that, at the time the two cars collided, the Snapchat user was driving 107 miles per hour.
What is also important to note is that, given that it is illegal to text while driving, any driver who causes an accident by texting is automatically liable for engaging in an illegal activity. Regardless, even if the driver was, for example, over the age of 18 and speaking on their cell phone (which is not technically illegal in Georgia), you still have the right to file a claim for compensation if you have been injured in an accident with them. Typically, you and your attorney would file a claim for negligence against the distracted driver and seek compensation to cover medical bills, any lost wages, and any pain and suffering that occurred as a result of the accident.
It is one thing to read about these statistics and accidents online, but it is another to actually think about the many lives—many of them very young—that are lost every year due to distracted driving, and the toll this takes on the families of those involved.
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Car Accident Attorney in Acworth
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, you are likely overwhelmed with everything that’s happened, as well as what you need to do to move forward in terms of recovery, repairs, expenses, being able to work again, and just carry on as you did before.
Speaking with an experienced auto accident attorney can often make all the difference in terms of peace of mind and knowing that you have a plan in place. The last thing that you want to deal with is hassle from auto insurance companies seeking to minimize their own costs—especially if you are severely injured from the accident or lost someone you loved.
For a free, reliable legal consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney who’s been serving clients in Acworth and surrounding areas of Georgia for years, contact the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. today. You may also call us at (770) 792-1000.