Over the past decade, Georgia had been experiencing a decline in traffic fatalities each year. But bucking a nine-year trend, the state of Georgia saw an increase in the number of people killed in car accidents this past year, and officials think distracted driving is the cause.
Traffic deaths in Georgia are up 12 percent in 2015, compared with 14 percent nationally, a trend Georgia law enforcement doesn’t necessarily want to keep up with. If it does, Georgia is on pace to see 1,200 people die as a result of traffic accidents in the state this year, an average of 10 deaths a month.
Through August 2014, 704 people died on Georgia roads, but in 2015 that number ballooned to 791, thanks to several factors, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT):
- Cheaper gas prices
- An improved economy
- Distracted driving
GDOT data also indicates that although the state reports 95 percent compliance in seat belt usage (a large factor in reducing fatalities), 62 percent of the people killed in automobile accidents are not wearing the devices, making many of the deaths unnecessary and preventable.
Efforts Underway to Reverse Trend
Efforts including safety edge, rumble strips, center median cable barriers, high friction surface treatments, reflective signage and striping, and pedestrian countdown timers may help keep drivers focused and reduce accidents, but more clearly needs to be done.
Texting while driving is illegal in Georgia, and in response to the increase in traffic fatalities, the GDOT started a program called Drive Alert, Arrive Alive to try to make drivers more aware of the hazards created by distracted driving. The program address driving safety and congestion through innovative roadway designs and smart technologies to help make driving safer, relieve congestion, and improve overall efficiency.
As safety advocates, we applaud efforts in this regard and hope the program gets Georgia back on the right track in reducing fatalities on our roadways. Buckle up, pay attention and be safe out there.
Other programs and efforts that might help include:
End Distracted Driving: http://www.enddd.org/
NHTSA Programs: http://www.nhtsa.gov/
Dangerous Trailers.org: http://www.dangeroustrailers.org/
A partner with Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC,, Brandon Smith has devoted his practice to pharmaceutical litigation, mass torts, products liability and serious personal injury. A frequent guest speaker at legal seminars all over the country—Brandon is focused on helping injured victims nationwide, however possible. Named a SuperLawyer in 2017, he has also been called out as one of 10 Best Attorneys For Georgia by the American Institute Of Personal Injury Attorneys.