Understanding Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash Report
The underlying reason that car accidents happen varies widely. Although many of the same themes repeat themselves, such as speeding or driving while distracted, every collision is unique. The Georgia Motor Vehicle Crash report attempts to address some of the most common contributing factors. These are known as operator contributing factors.
Having this information allows a car accident victim to show what the other driver did wrong to cause the accident, but it isn’t conclusive evidence about what happened. Nonetheless, this particular section can be very helpful in many car accident cases because it sets out what the police officer thought caused the accident.
What types of contributing factors might be noted on the crash report?
Most operator contributing factors deal with failing to follow the rules of the road or some other operator error. These include, for example:
- Under the influence. Although the section entitled “Operator/Pedestrian Condition” contains references to operating the vehicle under the influence, this section notes that being under the influence was a contributing factor to the accident. In many situations, being under the influence does contribute to the crash, but not always. This section lets the officer note that being under the influence actually caused the accident, which can be very helpful for your car accident case. (Note: if you were hit by a drunk driver, it is extremely important you talk to a drunk driving accident lawyer to protect your rights!)
- Following too close. When a driver follows too close, that can lead to rear-end collisions. If you have been rear-ended, following too close may be the reason that this type of accident occurred.
- Driving too fast for conditions. Although speed limits generally control speed, drivers are supposed to drive only as fast the circumstances permit. That means that if it’s foggy or raining heavily, drivers need to slow down to ensure that they are driving safely. It is certainly possible that a driver causes an accident because they were going too fast for the conditions, even when they were driving below the speed limit.
- Disregard police—traffic control. Police often take an active role in controlling traffic. Drivers can be at fault even when they are following the general rules of the road but have disregarded direction from a police officer directing traffic.
- Reaction to object or animal. This notation isn’t necessarily an error—but it can be. If a driver overreacts to an animal or object, that can be considered a mistake. But, sometimes a driver reacts appropriately, and that causes an accident as well.
- Driver condition. This section is connected to the operator/pedestrian condition section. For example, if the driver suffered a stroke while driving, that would likely be listed as a driver condition, and then the condition section will likely include a note about “physical impairment.”
- Like other categories, an officer can mark “other” when something unique has occurred that falls outside of the general categories in this section. There will likely be a note about what this contributing factor may be.
- No contributing factors. There are situations when it appears that no one did anything wrong, but an accident occurred anyway. While those situations are rare, the officer does have the option to indicate that the operator did nothing wrong.
Other additional operator contributing factors dealing with driver error include:
- Failed to yield
- Exceeding speed limit
- Disregard stop sign/signal
- Wrong side of the road
- Improper passing
- Driver lost control
- Changed lanes improperly
- Improper turn
- Misjudged clearance
- Improper backing
- No signal/improper signal
- Improper passing of a school bus
- Disregard other traffic control
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Disregard police – evasion
- Not visible (object, person or vehicle)
- Vision obscured
Do the Operator Contributing Factors include information about distraction?
There are also additional sections related to driver distraction. Instead of having a “catch-all” category for distraction, the Operator Contributing Factors divides out potential distraction in addition to having a general distraction code. Specific distractions listed include:
- Talking on a hands-free device
- Talking on a hand-held device
- Other activity-mobile device
- Occupant distraction
The codes are also divided into internal and external distractions as well. Internal distractions may be something as simple as looking down to adjust your radio. An external distraction could include watching something or someone else instead of the road in front of you.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
While the operator contributing factors don’t necessarily prove fault, they can be great evidence of it. Every car accident must prove fault to get money damages for injuries, property damage, and other losses. John Foy & Associates can help you use the information in this section to your advantage in your car accident case. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.