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Atlanta Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawyer

Georgia law is clear: “A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” Nevertheless, in Fulton County alone prosecutors secured 3,137 convictions for violating this law just in one year. The Georgia legislature takes a dim view of distracted driving precisely because it is so dangerous, and every year, more and more crashes occur due to distracted driving. When a distracted driving accident occurs, regardless of whether the driver was cited or not, The Schermerhorn Firm can help you hold that driver accountable for the harm they’ve caused you by securing compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other legal damages. Get the help you need to win the justice you deserve. Contact our experienced Atlanta distracted driving car accident lawyer today.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is more than just texting while driving, although that negligent activity is responsible for a large number of crashes and the prevalence of distracted driving in the public mind. In fact, as the law makes clear, distracted driving is any action that distracts the driver from the safe operation of the vehicle. Distracted driving can be just about anything, but the most common distracting behaviors leading to crashes in Atlanta tend to be the following:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating
  • Personal grooming
  • Talking to passengers
  • Looking at the phone or papers in the car
  • Daydreaming/thinking about things other than the task of driving

Distracted driving has been studied extensively by safety researchers in recent years, who classify distracted driving into three categories: manual distractions (your hands are off the wheel); visual distractions (your eyes are off the road); and cognitive distractions (your mind is off the task of driving). All forms of distraction are dangerous, and activities that combine two or three types of distraction in one behavior are even more likely to result in a crash. According to research, distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving or driving with your eyes closed, and even after stopping a distracting activity, it still takes some time before your attention fully returns to driving.

Distracted driving is negligent driving, and The Schermerhorn Firm works diligently to hold drivers fully accountable for the harm they cause in a distracted driving crash.

The Georgia Hands-Free Law

The Hands-Free Georgia Act has been in effect since 2018. When it comes to using a phone while driving, the Hands-Free Law is broad and clear: “A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone.” Here are some of the main features of the Hands-Free Law every driver should know.

  • Any calls can only be made or received using a hands-free device or feature such as a speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, or a phone connected to the vehicle or an electronic watch.
  • Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication and may not be used to listen to music, podcasts, or other entertainment.
  • No texting while driving is allowed, including sending or reading, unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts the spoken message to a written text or vice versa.
  • A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content.
  • A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
  • A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt) or broadcast any video while driving. This law would prevent a driver from engaging in a FaceTime or Skype call, for instance.
  • Music streaming apps are only allowed if the app is programmed and activated while the car is parked, and the driver cannot touch the phone to adjust the app while on the road. No video streaming is allowed, even if the driver’s intention is just to listen to music and not watch the video. It is lawful to connect and control the app through the car’s radio controls.
  • The Hands-Free Law does not appear to apply to GPS navigation devices, and it does not apply to using the radio. Exceptions to the Hands-Free Law allow using a handheld phone for reporting a crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions.
  • The Hands-Free Law does not apply when the vehicle is lawfully parked, but that does not include being stopped at a stop sign or traffic light, even if you put the car in park.
  • Special rules apply to commercial vehicle operators and school bus drivers which strictly limit when and how they can use a phone but also include exceptions for devices such as CBs and two-way radios for certain communications.

Atlanta Ordinance for City Workers

Section 2-1719 of the Atlanta Code of Ordinances contains a special provision for city employees, which seems to prohibit hands-free as well as handheld communications while driving on the job:

“Any City employee responsible for operating a City-owned vehicle or privately owned vehicle in the performance of City business shall not use a City issued or private cell phone to talk or text during the operation of said vehicle while conducting City business.”

City employees are subject to disciplinary action for failing to comply with this ordinance and are subject to dismissal if they are responsible for causing a vehicular accident while using a cell phone or texting in violation of the ordinance. Violating this ordinance can be strong evidence of negligence and fault in causing an accident, but claims against the city are different than claims involving other drivers. You must act very quickly to file a notice of claim with the city, so don’t waste any time contacting an attorney if you’ve been in a crash with a government vehicle.

The Schermerhorn Firm Is Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a distracted driver in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia, call The Schermerhorn Firm at 404-596-4462 for a free case review from an experienced and successful Atlanta car accident lawyer. We’ll fight to get justice and compensation for you.

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