In the past, “distracted driving” might have conjured images of a driver rushing to work while applying makeup or eating a fast-food meal while driving. It might have brought to mind images of taking your eye off the road for a split second to change the radio station or eject that cassette or CD and put in another.
Things have changed. Now talk of “distracted driving” conjures images of drivers on cell phones, either having conversations or texting – and even posting to social media while speeding. There’s no doubt that distracted driving has become a concern, and beginning July 1st, Georgia State Law takes aim at the practice. The Gwinnett Daily Post reports on exactly what the new Hands-Free Georgia Act means for drivers.
In short, save touching the phone once for answering or making a call, it will be illegal to even be touching a wireless communications device while behind the wheel in Georgia.
House Bill 673, better known as the Hands-Free Georgia Act, goes into effect on July 1st. While the law provides for no grace period between the time the law goes into effect and when tickets can be given, some jurisdictions are choosing to allow for an educational period before they begin issuing tickets.
One such jurisdiction is Gwinnett County, who will have a 30-day period where they educate drivers about the new law before cracking down and issuing tickets. However, officers may still write tickets, particularly if a motorist causes an accident in violation of the Hands-Free Act.
While motorists cannot physically touch their phone while driving, they can use their phones talk-to-text voice feature, if their phone is equipped. While they can send a text in a way that leaves their hands free, they cannot read replies.
Garrett Townsend, the director of public affairs for AAA in Georgia, says that the hope is to attach a stigma to distracted driving much like the stigma that comes from drunken driving.
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