The accident rate in Georgia is still very high, although recent laws that have gone into effect appear to have at reduced car collision-based accidents. Below, we discuss some of these latest developments, as well as ways you can help keep you and your family safe on the roads.
Georgia Still Unreasonably Dangerous
In a study published in April, AAA found that injury crashes are frequently more serious than they need to be because drivers fail to obey the law and stop to offer aid. Along these lines, in 2016, Georgia ranked fourth for the highest number of fatal hit-and-run accidents (note that in Georgia, a hit and run accident can land you up to five years in jail). As of June this year, Georgia also ranked as 14th in the country for the deadliest roads, with more than 15 road deaths per 100,000 and a 39 percent of fatal crashes on rural roads. This number is on a steady increase for pedestrian accidents, in particular. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, more than 100 pedestrians have been killed on state roads already this year, with between 250 and 300 in total killed each year before. Some common factors in these accidents identified by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety identified were fatal pedestrian accidents on arterial roads, outside of intersections, and in suburban or urban areas. Crashes were also more likely to involve high-horsepower vehicles and SUVs and occur in the dark versus daylight hours.
If you are driving on the roads here in Georgia, make sure that you stay aware, drive cautiously, and stay helpful, patient, and vigilant. Pedestrians should walk on a sidewalk or path, and if that is not available, walk in the direction facing traffic. Make sure that you stay alert—not distracted by electronic devices—and be cautious if you are out there at night.
Teen Drivers & Accidents
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According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are close to 1,000,000 teen motor vehicle accidents in particular every year, where close to 3,000 of these results in fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the number one overall cause of teenage death, where one in four teens will be in a collision just during the first year of driving, especially those that are between the ages of 16 and 19.
If your child is driving, here are some helpful tips that may prevent an accident:
- Inspect your car before driving it to make sure that the windshield is film-free and the tires have enough air in them;
- Make sure that you have your driver’s license with you;
- Make sure you know where your insurance card and registration are within the car;
- Make sure you have your phone on you in case you need to call the police and/or take photos; and
- Know what kind of safety equipment you have in the car with you.
If your child does get in an accident, make sure that they follow these steps, at a minimum:
- Stay calm and do not admit fault. Remember that, legally, an apology could be construed as an admission of guilt;
- Make sure you and others are safe. This includes putting on your hazard lights and making sure you are as out-of-the-way as possible in terms of where your car is located with respect to oncoming traffic;
- Call the police and report the accident;
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver;
- Take notes about the accident. This includes gathering contact information of any witnesses;
- Take photos of the accident scene; and
- Call home. You and your family may also need to discuss contacting an attorney.
New Hands-Free Law in Georgia
In July of this year, Georgia implemented the Hands-Free law. It is now not only illegal to hold your phone while driving in the state, but the law now bars reading from it and using it to record videos, even while at stop lights, while enforcing penalties if your phone is “touching any part of your body” while you are talking through the device. This includes reading emails, texting, doing social media posts, and writing any content whatsoever. Dash cams and utilizing Bluetooth technology is legal, including playing a playlist through the car’s stereo controls. However, drivers can only use headsets and earpieces for communication and not for listening to music or any other entertainment. The law also carves out an exception for navigational services, such as Google Maps.
The penalty for violating the law is a $50, and this doubles upon a second offense to $100 and two points; while a third or subsequent offense is three points and $150 fine. After these offenses, one’s license could potentially be suspended. Georgia had previously banned texting while driving in 2010; however, the law was largely unenforceable because making calls was still legal.
Other exceptions to the law include the following:
- Making an emergency report, including reporting a traffic crash, fire, criminal activity, hazardous road conditions;
- An employee or contractor of a utility service provider can be acting within the scope of their employment;
- A first responder; and/or
- When in a lawfully parked vehicle.
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According to reports in October, the law has already decreased both traffic fatalities and insurance claims. Specifically, as of the end of September, traffic crash fatalities were down 11 percent compared to this same time last year. There have also been 128 fewer fatalities in 2018 compared to 2017. This represents the largest decrease in Georgia traffic fatalities in 10 years.
Contact Our Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to a violation of the law, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Roger Ghai Law Offices. We provide legal services for Acworth, Kennesaw, Marietta, and surrounding areas.