Distracted Driving is a Real Problem in Kennesaw, GA

distracted driving accidents deadly

Automobile Accidents are a Real Problem in Cobb County, GA

According to Georgia Automobile Crash Data published by the Georgia Department of Transportation (“GDOT”) on its crash data portal, there were 25,716 accidents in Cobb County, Georgia during 2022. 10,603 people were injured in those accidents and 77 died.  These statistics are alarming but they are down right scary when we break them down further. These statistics suggest that in 2022, on average, 70.45 accidents occurred every day in Cobb County. Again, on average, 29.04 people are hurt in these accidents every day and someone died every 5.18 days.

Distracted Driving is a Dangerous Habit for Many Georgia Drivers

A major cause of deadly traffic accidents is distracted driving. In today’s high paced world, drivers can be distracted by many things ranging from cell phones to kids arguing in the back seat. 52,149 of the 57,605 distracted driver convictions reported to the Georgia Department of Driver Services in 2021, were for violations of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c) Unlawful Use of Wireless Device. Of all the counties in Georgia, Cobb County had the third most convictions for violations of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(c). The only Georgia counties with more convictions for Unlawful Use of a Wireless Device were Fulton and Gwinnett Counties. Detailed distracted driver data reports for Georgia can be found on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website.

Despite extensive research showing just how big of a problem distracting driving is, drivers continue to engage in behavior that causes them to lose focus on the road. People often underestimate the risk of talking on the phone, text messaging, eating while they drive, or overestimate their ability to multitask. But with lives at stake, practicing safe driving habits is crucial.

Careless Tractor Trailer Drivers Drive While Distracted

Just a few years ago, this author was contacted by a potential client after he was rear-ended by a tractor trailer driver on Interstate-285 outside of Atlanta. At first glance, the case seemed to be fairly routine but things got interesting when I filed suit and obtained the tractor-trailer driver’s cell phone records.

During the lawsuit, I served written discovery on the tractor-trailer driver, his employer, and his insurance company. Initially, they vehemently denied that he was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. Specifically, the driver claimed he was checking his mirrors as a safety measure prior to the crash:

His cellular provider’s records told a different story. The driver was, in fact, engaged in a lengthy text messaging conversation during his trip and at the time of the crash. This was easily proven by comparing the Georgia Crash Report – Crash Date & Time to the driver’s cell phone records as shown below:

When this tractor trailer driver was texting and driving, he knew that his actions were dangerous. He said so in his deposition testimony:

6         Q.  Did you know at the time of this
7.    wreck and did you believe at the time of this —
8.    that this wreck occurred that texting and driving
9.    was, as on this video we just watched, one of the
10.  most dangerous things you can do while driving a
11.  vehicle?
12.       A.  Yes, I was aware.
13.       Q.  And did you it anyway?
14.        A.  Yes.

This driver’s dangerous choice to text and drive caused significant injuries to my client that resulted in a very expensive and risky neck surgery. As a consequence of this driver’s choice to text and drive, my client will never be the same. He has internal hardware to stabilize his spine and he will never again be the same father and husband he once was. In addition to my client’s serious injuries, this driver’s employer had to pay a large amount of money to settle this claim.

Nobody “won” in this situation. A man’s life was forever altered and a company lost a lot of money due to its driver’s dangerous choice to text and drive. We should all keep this lesson in mind so we don’t make the same dangerous mistake.

Common Bad Habits to Avoid While Driving in Georgia

  1. Texting. This is a bad and dangerous habit in Georgia and throughout the country. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous. Some research shows that the dangers of texting and driving can be as profound as those associated with drinking and driving. Texting and driving should always be avoided for safety reasons. Moreover, it is illegal to do so in Georgia and punishable by a fine. 
  1. Using apps or other phone functions. Equally dangerous is using your phone to access apps, music, or any other functions. For instance, one study suggested that the rising popularity Pokemon Go was causing more accidents on the road because game-obsessed drivers sometimes try to play as they drive. Like texting, using smartphone applications while driving should always be avoided.
  1. Talking on the phone. Some studies show that even hands-free cell phone conversations present a significant risk. Although hands-free calling is a safer way to communicate than texting, you should be aware that it still presents a risk on the road.
  1. Eating and drinking. Some people eat and drink when they drive. In fact, at one time or another most people have probably tried to grab a bite or sip on a soda while behind the wheel. While there are some circumstances where this might be safe, you should never eat or drink anything that takes both hands, is messy, or can be easily spilled.
  1. Any other multitasking. There are countless other ways a person can be distracted trying to multitask as they drive. Anytime you are taking attention away from your driving to do something else, it can be a problem and a safety hazard.

Distracted Driving Poses Significant Financial Risks

Distracted driving poses significant financial risks, impacting individuals and society at large. Lets explore some financial consequences that may arise from this dangerous behavior:

  1. Increased Auto Insurance Premiums: Traffic violations related to distracted driving lead to higher automobile insurance premiums. When you receive a citation for distracted driving, your automobile insurance costs can increase significantly. According to The Zebra, a 2024 cell phone violation can increase your insurance premiums by 21.56%. Repeated offenses can compound these costs resulting in prohibitively expense automobile insurance premiums. 
  1. Insurance Claims and Payouts: Insurance companies are in the business of making money. Distracted driving accidents result in property damage and personal bodily injury payouts. An “at-fault” distracted driving accident will almost certainly increase the at-fault driver’s premiums. However, the financial fallout does not stop with that driver. When more distracted driving accidents occur, automobile insurers will have higher overall claims expenses. This means that those increased expenses will be passed along to the public in the form of higher premiums.
  1. Property Damage and Repairs: Distracted driving often results in crashes, leading to property damage. Repairing or replacing damaged vehicles can be expensive, especially in the modern world where vehicle maintenance and repair costs continue to rise.
  1. Medical Expenses: Distracted driving accidents can result in injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Medical expenses, including hospital bills and doctor visits can quickly add up.
  1. Legal Fees and Fines: Most states have enacted laws that impose monetary fines on individuals who plead guilty or are convicted of distracted driving. For example, in Georgia, the monetary fines can be found at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(f)(1).
  1. Lost Wages and Productivity: When distracted driving leads to accidents, the accident victims often miss time from work to deal with car repairs, doctor’s appointments, etc. This can result in lost income for the victims and lost productivity for employers when their employees are unable to perform their job duties efficiently.
  1. Vehicle Depreciation: Most of us know that the resale value of a damaged vehicle is much less than a non-wrecked vehicle. Even after repairs, potential buyers may hesitate to purchase a car with an accident history.
  1. Business Costs: When commercial vehicles are involved in distracted driving accidents, the businesses often face repair costs, insurance claims, and lost revenue. For example, when a tractor trailer driver is involved in a distracted driving accident, the trucking company will likely face several claims that include damaged cargo, property damage, worker’s compensation, and even third-party bodily injury. It may not end there. If the company has a history of distracted driving accidents caused by its drivers, it may face regulatory penalties and lose business from customers that hire it to transport goods.

Distracted Driving is a Top Concern for Automobile Accident Lawyers

Personal injury automobile accident lawyers are usually interested in whether the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the wreck that injured their client. There are many reasons for this but the primary reason is that injury claim and lawsuit awards are usually larger when the are aggravating circumstances that contribute to the wreck.

So, why are monetary awards typically larger when someone causes a wreck while they are distracted? In this author’s experience, it is because the distracted driver is less sympathetic than an attentive driver who simply made a mistake.

In most situations, a conscious choice must be made to take whatever action caused the distraction. For example, someone must choose to use their cell phone. They must choose to wear earbuds. They must choose to check their email. They must choose to play a game. They must choose to apply makeup. A conscious choice is much different from an innocent mistake where someone, for example, misjudges the distance between themselves and another driver.

Additionally, drivers that violate a distracted driving law may be negligent per se. This means the law presumes that the distracted driver breached their duty of care and is negligent as a matter of law. In negligence per se cases, the injured party (usually the Plaintiff) only needs to prove that the negligent acted “caused” their damages (and of course, what those damages are).

The lesson here is quite simple. Distracted driving exposes drivers to significant financial burdens so don’t do it.

Be Safe: Focus on the Road When Driving

Driving isn’t a time to lose focus. Every day, most Americans drive and it is easy to get complacent. Distracted driving not only jeopardizes lives but it also results in substantial financial burdens. By staying focused on the road, we can mitigate the risks of driving and promote safer driving practices for everyone.

If you’d like more information, or if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, feel free to contact the personal injury lawyers at Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at (833) 534-2542 in Kennesaw, Cobb County, Georgia today.