Distracted driving causes serious injuries every year and is incredibly dangerous behavior. The distraction behind the wheel that most people are likely to think of is picking up a phone and texting or talking. However, there are other distractions, as well. One of the most common is eating while a driver is on the road.
Many people may not think that taking a sip of coffee or grabbing a fry out of a to-go bag are big distractions, but they can be. However, are these actions illegal in the same way texting and driving are? Can a person be held liable for an accident they cause if they eat while they are on the road? The answer is yes.
The Law on Distracted Driving in Georgia
Georgia has had a distracted driving law on the books since 2014 and it has undergone many changes since that time. Today though, the law remains fairly vague. It states that drivers should not engage in any actions that will distract them while they are behind the wheel.
Because the language is so broad, it could be used to justify law enforcement giving a person a citation for nearly anything they do behind the wheel, including eating and drinking. Police officers in Georgia have issued tickets to drivers for eating and drinking behind the wheel, stating that the driver posed a danger to those around them.
Although many people may be surprised to learn they can receive a ticket for eating behind the wheel, it is not surprising when you consider the danger it may pose. Some of the interstates in Georgia have a speed limit of 60 miles per hour. Under no other scenario would someone drink coffee or eat a hamburger while moving at these speeds and so, it really should not be done in a vehicle, either.
The Three Types of Distracted Driving in Georgia
When referring to distracted driving, there are three main types to consider. These include:
- Manual distractions: These distractions include anything that requires a person to take their hands off the wheel.
- Visual distractions: These distractions include anything that requires a person to take their eyes off the road.
- Cognitive distractions: These distractions include anything that takes a person’s focus from the road in front of them and their surroundings.
When thinking about eating while behind the wheel, it becomes easy to see how that action could involve all three types of distractions. When eating or drinking on the road, a driver must take their hands off the wheel to reach for the food item. That may also require them to take their eyes off the road, particularly if they cannot easily find the opening in a bag or a hole in the lid of a coffee cup. A driver could easily become more focused on these actions than driving safely.
Penalties for Distracted Driving in Georgia
Any type of distracted driving in Georgia is against the law and as such, anyone who violates the law will face harsh penalties. These include:
- First offense: $50 fine plus one point on a driver’s license
- Second offense: $100 fine and two points on a driver’s license
- Third and subsequent offense: $150 fine and three points on a driver’s license
Of course, the above penalties are a minor consequence for drivers that want to engage in this behavior. The far more serious impact is the injuries distracted driving causes.
Common Injuries Caused by Distracted Driving
Any time a driver is distracted behind the wheel, there is the potential for them to cause very serious injuries. A distracted driver may not realize there is another vehicle in front of them, they may veer out of their lane, or make other driving errors that are entirely preventable. The most common injuries caused by distracted driving include:
- Dislocated and broken bones
- Severe lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
Any time a person sustains any of the above injuries, or any other, due to a distracted driver, they can file a claim for financial compensation that can help them recover their losses.
Damages Available After a Distracted Driving Accident
When filing a claim for damages against a negligent driver, you can recover for all of your losses. The most common damages awarded in these cases include:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Lost income, bonuses, benefits, sick days, vacation days
- Loss of earning capacity, if you cannot return to the same line of work in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
To recover damages for your losses, you must make sure your claim is filed on time.
Statute of Limitations After a Distracted Driving Accident
Like all states, Georgia places a statute of limitations on all car accident cases. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file your claim. In Georgia, you have only two years to file your claim or you may forfeit your legal right to claim any damages at all. It may seem as though two years is a lot of time, but it is not. Before filing your claim, an investigation must be conducted to determine what happened and who was at fault. During the investigation, evidence will also be collected to prove your case so you can obtain the full and fair damages you are entitled to.
Consult with Our Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer in Georgia Today
No amount of financial compensation can turn back the clock and make it as though your injuries never happened. However, you also should not be responsible for paying for the cost of your injuries out of your pocket. At MG Law, our Georgia distracted driving accident lawyer understands this and it is why we are so dedicated to helping accident victims. Call us today at (770) 988-5252 or fill out our online form to request a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.