Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | May 19, 2021
It depends. The Hands-Free Georgia Act, passed on July 1, 2018, aimed to reduce distracted driving accidents. The law made it illegal for drivers to have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support the phone while driving.
However, drivers can use their phones to make and receive calls using an earpiece, speakerphone, hands-free vehicle audio system, wireless headphone, or an electronic watch. Importantly, earpieces and headsets may only be worn for communication purposes. In other words, you cannot wear headphones or earpieces to listen to music or for other entertainment purposes.
It is important to note that the law states “headphone,” not headphones. Therefore, a driver can only wear one headphone to use the cell phone. The other ear must be unobstructed.
Therefore, it would be illegal to wear headphones to listen to music or for any other purpose other than making a hands-free cell phone call, and you can only wear one headphone.
Why Does Georgia Not Allow Drivers to Wear Headphones?
Wearing headphones is prohibited for several reasons. Wearing two headphones while driving can increase your level of distraction. Also, you cannot hear warnings, such as another driver blowing the horn or sirens from emergency vehicles.
If you are stopped for wearing headphones while driving, the police officer may give you a warning or issue you a traffic citation for wearing headphones. However, you could also face civil penalties if you cause a car accident while wearing headphones.
Distracted Driving Accidents Result in Severe Injuries
Distracted driving continues to be a problem throughout the United States, including in Georgia. While the hands-free cell phone law may prevent some accidents, distracted drivers continue to cause crashes each day.
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported a decrease in the number of traffic deaths for 2018. That was the second year in a row that traffic deaths in Georgia had dropped. Director Allen Poole stated that this was evidence that the Hands-Free Law was working.
However, the number of pedestrian deaths increased for the third straight year. Director Pool stated that distraction by phone continues to be a significant factor in the number of pedestrian fatalities within the state.
The injuries caused by a distracted driving accident can be severe. In some cases, victims may sustain permanent disabilities or life-threatening conditions.
Injuries caused by distracted drivers include:
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Back and spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Internal organ damage and failure
- Severe scarring and disfigurement
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Wrongful death
The cost of a distracted driving accident can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a person dies or develops a disability, the costs could total millions of dollars.
Who is Liable for a Distracted Driving Accident?
The driver who caused the crash is generally liable for any damages resulting from the collision. In many cases, the driver may not admit that they were distracted at the time of the accident. They may claim they merely did not “see” the other vehicle. For that reason, the number of distracted driving crashes may be underreported.
You must prove the driver caused the collision to hold the driver liable for damages. For example, you might prove they were at fault through video evidence showing they ran a red light or turned left in front of your vehicle when you had a green turning arrow.
Evidence in a distracted driving accident might include:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Videos of the collision from traffic cameras or surveillance cameras
- Physical evidence recovered from the accident scene, including skid marks
- Damage to the vehicles
- Testimony from eyewitnesses, passengers, and drivers
- Expert opinions from accident reconstructionists and other professionals
A car accident lawyer investigates the cause of your crash and searches for evidence to prove the other driver caused the accident.
What Damages Can I Recover Because of a Distracted Driving Crash?
If you were not at fault for the accident, you could receive compensation for your:
- Medical bills and costs
- Personal care costs
- Lost income and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments or disabilities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Even if you were partially to blame for the cause of an accident, you might still be entitled to some compensation for damages. Talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights. An attorney can help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your case.