Distracted driving in Georgia is an increasing threat to safety

Submitted by Ingrid on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:12

Despite long-term and ongoing public education campaigns aimed at reducing distracted driving, this dangerous behavior continues to be a safety threat on Georgia's roadways.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, fatalities on Georgia roads rose sharply in 2015, reaching 1432, up from 1170 in 2014. In 2016, the number rose to 1564. Given that The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have adopted a national goal of reducing fatalities by 1000 each year, Georgia has set a target of reducing fatalities by 41 or more each year. We failed this goal in the past few years.

Why do people continue to engage in distracted driving behaviors?

According to People Against Distracted Driving, distracted driving behaviors can be divided into three categories.

  • Visual - Distractions that take your eyes off the road.
  • Manual - Distractions that take your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive - Distractions that take your mind off the task of driving.

For any of these behaviors, the distraction can be so fast and so casual that drivers don't recognize they are endangering themselves and others. They think that the distraction is brief, and nothing bad could happen in such a short time period. They are often wrong, and preventable tragedies happen every day.

Which types of drivers are most at risk for distracted driving?

Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes nationally and in Georgia. According to The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which monitors health-risk behaviors among high school students, inn 2013, more than two out of five students who drove in the past 30 days sent a text or email while driving. Those who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking. Students who frequently text while driving are more likely to ride with a drinking driver or drink and drive than students who text while driving less frequently.

How can we reduce distracted driving crashes in Atlanta and across Georgia?

In response to Georgia’s increased fatalities, GDOT’s “Drive Alert Arrive Alive” campaign focuses on educating drivers about how they can make simple changes in their driving behavior to prevent crashes and save lives. The changes related to distracted driving include:

  • No use of cell phones or mobile devices while driving;
  • No fiddling with the radio or music devices;
  • No eating or drinking;
  • Keeping dogs restrained in the rear compartment of the vehicle.

At the Weinstein Firm, we hope to never work with the victim of a distracted driver again

Distracted driving in Atlanta and across Georgia has been a problem since the beginning of time, but with the prevalence of cell phones and other personal devices, the problem is as prevalent as ever. While we are hopeful that public education campaigns continue to teach drivers, particularly young drivers, how to avoid distracted driving, we know that the temptation can be overwhelming. Until you've been in a collision and have first-hand experience with how quickly a crash happens, the danger seems distant.