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Atlanta Traffic Accidents & Risk of Smartphone Apps

New Smartphone apps aim to make commutes easier for drivers by providing real-time traffic updates and information.  These apps go beyond turn-by-turn directions, giving you updates based on GPS data and first-person reports from other drivers on your route. Your phone can alert you to a red light camera, an accident or a traffic jam and can reroute you to get you around traffic. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This may all sound great, but you should think twice before you install these apps. Many smartphone programs, including those that are designed to be used while driving, can be very distracting and very dangerous.    Drivers who use their phones in any capacity while behind the wheel could be held liable for damages and injuries they cause. Victims of distracted driving crashes can speak to an Atlanta personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. to learn more about their right to compensation in the wake of a motor-vehicle collision.

Cell Phone Apps Behind the Wheel

Cell phone apps that try to make your commute easier typically include voice control features so you won't be tempted to take your hands off the wheel. However, this does not guarantee that the apps won't reduce your concentration. In fact, studies have shown that even when you are not using your hands, phone use is a cognitive distraction. Your brain pays attention to the phone or the software program and less energy is devoted to watching the road and avoiding collisions.

Not only that, but a review of a popular transportation app, Waze, contends that voice commands didn't work that well.  This is a common criticism of all kinds of different voice-controlled programs, and a lot of people who start out talking to their phones will end up using their hands when oral commands fail.  This is true even for programs like Waze that disable touch operation for drivers. It is easy to get around this limitation by simply signifying you are the passenger, not the driver.

Waze actually encourages you to interact with the phone while driving, since you are awarded points for entering traffic information. A lot of features on your phone encourage this kind of interaction, from the ding of a text message to a popup telling you that you have a new email. Many people respond to these cues by habit, using the phone even when they are driving.

Fortunately, there actually are some apps that really will make driving safer. These are apps designed to stop you from using your phone. The Times Free Press reports on one of them, MyKey, has been implemented in six million cars already. MyKey has a "Do Not Disturb" mode that prevents a phone paired to the car from accepting either texts or calls when the vehicle is in motion.  Parents routinely use MyKey on equipped cars to ensure their kids don't text or talk while driving.

To reduce the risk of a collision, you should be careful and install only those apps that will actually make your commute safer, rather than those that could backfire and force your attention off the road.

An Atlanta personal injury lawyer can help if you are in an accident. Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule  a free consultation. 

Will Truck Safety Rules Really Reduce Accidents?

The number of hours a trucker is allowed to drive was reduced recently.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) changed the rules on maximum hours of drive time to prevent drowsy driving collisions.   The Administration claims that this change is already having a positive effect and will prevent thousands of crashes. truck-delivery-1042539-m

However, not everyone agrees that FMCSA's new rules will actually bring the promised benefits. Further, other problems within the trucking industry also spell trouble for road safety.  Victims of truck accidents need to understand their rights and should contact an Atlanta truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. for help after a collision.

FMCSA Promises Safety Rules Will Reduce Collisions

The FMCSA limits truckers to driving 60 hours over a seven-day period and 70 hours over an eight-day period. Once a trucker hits these limits, he is required to rest for 34 consecutive hours. His rest time must include two periods between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.   Other new limits include a daily maximum drive time and a requirement that truckers take a break of at least a ½ hour after eight hours on the job.

The new limits went into effect on July 1, 2013, and FMCSA is now touting a study on drivers who start their work week with just one period of nighttime rest. instead of two. These drivers reportedly are more sleepy, are more likely to exhibit lapses in attention, and are more likely to deviate from their lanes at all times of the day. Because the two-night rest period has been made mandatory, the FMCSA asserts that 1,400 crashes, 560 injuries and 19 fatalities will be prevented every year due to drive-time limits.

Some trucking groups, however, question whether the promised benefits will actually materialize. By requiring drivers to sleep at night, truckers are more likely to drive during the day during higher traffic times. This could actually result in more collisions occurring.

Further, enforcement of the maximum number of hours on duty can be difficult.  Drivers have to keep log books of time spent on the job, and employers are supposed to monitor truckers to ensure they don't exceed the legal allowable time.  Unfortunately, both truckers and employers have a lot of incentive to break these rules because there is a severe trucker shortage. There are not enough truckers to do the routes that need to be done, and the shortages of qualified drivers are only likely to grow worse.

If a trucker does violate the rules and drive when he is not supposed to, the FMCSA regulation could make it easier for crash victims to obtain compensation. A victim injured in a collision could point to the trucker's rule violation to show the driver was negligent in a way that caused injury.  While this may help accident victims to recover traffic-accident losses, it would be far better to prevent the accident in the first place. The FMCSA's rules may not be effective and may not be the answer to saving lives. Truckers and trucking companies making a commitment to safety is the only way to protect motorists on the roads.

An Atlanta truck accident lawyer can help if you are in a collision. Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit to schedule  a free consultation.