It has been more than a year since the state passed the Hands-Free Georgia Act that prohibits drivers from holding or operating their devices while they drive. While the law is still relatively new, there is already evidence that the new law has made a difference. According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the number of tickets issued to distracted drivers is up, and the number of traffic-related fatalities is down.
This is good news because all data points to the fact that distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic fatalities. Moreover, drivers who text while driving are eight times more likely to be involved in a crash. The numbers were so bad that lawmakers were compelled to make this change — fatalities went up by one-third between 2014 and 2016.
Law enforcement cracks down
After giving motorists time to get used to the new law, the Georgia State Patrol issued a flurry of tickets late last year. All told, troopers issued nearly 8,400 distracted-driving citations in the second half of 2018. This was more than double the number of similar tickets issued in the first half of the year. That momentum has continued with 7,077 in the first three months of 2019.
Data says it is working
A study tracking the use of more than 21,000 Georgia drivers who consented to a company monitoring their cellphone use before and after the law went into effect was conducted. The company found that the drivers spent 19.5% of their time driving using their device in the three months before the law went into effect. That number dropped to 15.4% of total driving time in the three months after the law went into effect.
There has also been a drop in motor vehicle-related fatalities from 1,549 to 1,515, which is a 2% drop. Numbers in 2019 look even better this year, with the state on track for a 7% reduction in distracted driver fatalities.
These numbers can be better
It is a fact that distracted driving is a preventable offense. Drivers need to put their devices down or turn them off. Unfortunately, that is unlikely. Thus, there will still be victims and fatalities due to these willfully negligent acts. Those injured or who have lost a loved one may wish to contact an attorney who helps victims seek the compensation they deserve. This can include lost wages, damage to property and related medical expenses not covered by insurance.