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Causing an Accident While on a Cell Phone

While Georgia law does not yet require us to use a headset or hands-free device when talking on a cell phone while driving, the law does prohibit the use of cell phone based GPS devices while driving.

Rewind ten or fifteen years ago.  The “it” gadget to purchase was the TomTom or Garmin.

These two items (and other systems like them) revolutionized the way in which we all traveled and “mapped” out the most direct route.  However, as technology continues to evolve, so has the GPS. Nowadays, most of us utilize the map feature on our smart phones to get us from point A to point B.

But when do these devices become a distraction or cause harm to ourselves and others?

Unfortunately, we’re forced to ask this question because the distractions caused by GPS systems does result in tragedy. In September, 2015, a North Carolina man named Kingg Fareed was charged with involuntary manslaughter for hitting and killing a motorcyclist because authorities said that, while driving, Fareed was distracted by his smart phone’s GPS system and he was not watching the road.

Fareed and his two children were lost near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and his handheld GPS device directed him to make a U-turn onto Sullivan Road in College Park, Georgia. The U-turn resulted in Fareed’s car hitting a motorcycle and killing its driver.  Fareed was charged with involuntary manslaughter, improper U-turn and failure to use due care in use of an electronic device.  Under Georgia law the following detail each of the charges:

Homicide by Vehicle

O.C.G.A § 40-6-393(c): Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163 [passing a school bus], subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 [hit and run], Code Section 40-6-390 [reckless driving] or 40-6-391 [driving under influence of alcohol or drugs], or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 [fleeing police officer] commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3 [up to $1,000 fine and 12 months in jail].

Improper U-Turn

 O.C.G.A § 40-6-121: No vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction:

(1) Upon any curve;

(2) Upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade where such vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of another vehicle approaching from either direction;

(3) Where such turn cannot be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic; or

(4) Where a prohibition is posted.

Wireless telecommunications device use prohibited

 O.C.G.A § 40-6-241.2(b):

(1) No person who is 18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.

(2) No person shall operate a commercial motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while:

(A) Holding a wireless telecommunications device to conduct a voice communication;

(B) Using more than a single button on a wireless telecommunications device to initiate or terminate a voice communication; or

(C) Reaching for a wireless telecommunications device in such a manner that requires the driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position properly restrained by a safety belt.

This story is so important to discuss as many of us find ourselves in this exact situation. Instead of pulling over and confirming directions, we try to do both: drive and decipher the best/quickest route to our destination. This tragedy is something from which we can all learn a valuable lesson.

So the next time you are traveling with family or for business, take the time to map out your location and best route before getting behind the wheel and therefore avoid becoming a distracted driver. The silly GPS voice isn’t worth harming yourself or anyone else.

For more information on this article, contact Kaine Law.

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