In mid-2018, the governor of Georgia signed the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” into law, which made it illegal to use a handheld telecommunication device while operating a vehicle. Less than three months after the bill was passed, a Georgia state senator posted an online video made while he was driving down the highway. The public became outraged over the video, which has since been removed.
Distracted driving is believed to be the main cause of the spike in traffic fatalities seen across Georgia and the U.S. in the past few years. One Georgia legislator estimated that enforcing the handheld ban could reduce traffic fatalities in the state by 20 percent per year, or approximately 260 individuals. Lawmakers compared the number to the average size of a high school class, making the number more personal and driving people to overwhelmingly vote for the ban. Earlier in the year, both Oregon and Rhode Island passed similar laws and more states are expected to follow suit.
Though studies are still being done, early numbers look promising as to the effectiveness of the laws. TrueMotion, a company that monitors the use of mobile devices for insurance purposes, said that distracted driving levels dropped 19 percent one month after the bans took place in Rhode Island and Oregon, and levels dropped even further in Georgia by 22 percent. Less distracted driving is already decreasing the number of traffic fatalities in the state as well; traffic fatalities dropped 14 percent in Georgia since the law took place. Law enforcement officers and legislators hope that these numbers continue to drop as more and more drivers pay attention to the road.
Distracted drivers are a major cause of motor vehicle accidents. When a person chooses to operate a vehicle, he or she has the legal responsibility to pay attention and operate the vehicle safely. When a driver uses a cell phone while driving, he or she acts negligently. Vehicle accidents can result in pain and suffering, costly medical bills and lost wages. A lawyer may be able to prove that a driver acted negligently by driving while distracted and help the injured parties receive damages.