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Distracted Driving: Types, Risk Factors, and Prevention

What is distracted driving? According to the CDC, distracted driving is “driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving.” There are many types of distracted driving, and while not all are illegal, all increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

Each day in the US, more than 1,000 people are injured in car crashes resulting from distracted driving. Additionally, 25% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities are due to distracted driving.


Out of all the cases we work on each year, numerous cases involve some sort of distracted driving. We seek to change that. Keep reading for what you need to know about distracted driving!


Which types of distracted driving are illegal?

20 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. The laws surrounding these regulations are all primary enforcement laws, meaning a police officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

While there aren’t any states that ban all cell phone use for all drivers, 39 states and D.C. prohibit all cell phone use by novice (new) drivers. Georgia laws consider all drivers under the age of 18 to be novice drivers. 20 states and D.C. prohibit all cell phone use by school bus drivers.

Currently, 48 states – including Georgia – ban text messaging while driving for all drivers. Georgia applies primary enforcement for its text messaging law.

Click here for a PDF chart of the distracted driving laws in Georgia.


Related: The In’s and Out’s of Georgia’s New Hands-Free Law


All Types of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can be classified into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distracted driving involves physically taking your eyes off the road. Manual involves removing your hand(s) off the wheel, and cognitive involves distractions that take your mind off of driving. Activities included under these categories include, but are not limited to, sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a GPS, eating while driving, etc. Performing any of these activities while driving can endanger yourself and other drivers.

Texting combines all three types of distracted driving, making it especially dangerous.


Who is Most at Risk?

It probably comes with no surprise that drivers under the age of 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. That’s because when two teens are driving together, the likelihood of an accident doubles than when a teen drives alone. If three or more teens are in the car, the chances of an accident occurring are 5 times as likely.

For parents, driving with kids in the car also proves as a top distraction. Parents take their eyes off the road an average of 21% of the total time behind the wheel with kids in the car.

Drivers with pets in the car are also more at risk, with 65% of dog owners saying they have been distracted while driving with their pet as a passenger.


Georgia’s law against texting while driving is one example of an effort to prevent more crashes due to distracted driving. Some states use graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness of the need to practice caution while driving. As of March 2019, a total of 16 states have banned drivers from hand-held phone use and 47 states have banned texting while driving. As more and more states enact these types of laws, distracted driving can be lessened.


Your safety is our top priority here at The Haug Law Group. If you have been involved in an accident due to the negligence of another, contact us today!