Last month Governor Nathan Deal signed the Hands-Free Georgia Act, making it a state-wide law prohibiting drivers from holding mobile devices while driving. Since this law goes into effect on July 1st, I wanted to pass along reliable sources and trusted sites where you can learn more about this monumental change.
The official bill, titled House Bill 673, can be found on the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website. But to truly understand the details of the bill, I recommend visiting Heads Up Georgia - a website created by the Governor’s Office dedicated to educating the public about the Hands-Free Law as well as the dangers of distracted driving. As stated on the Heads Up Georgia site, the new law states:
- A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch. GPS navigation devices are allowed
- Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.
- A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS
- A driver may not send or read any e-mails, social media or other internet content
- A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
- A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt)
- All drivers under 18 are prohibited from all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free), including making phone calls.
The site goes on to state that while law enforcement does have the option to issue warnings as a way to educate drivers on the new law, there is no 90-day grace period and citations will begin July 1st. The first conviction will be a $50 fine and one point on a license, second conviction will be a $100 and two points on a license, and all subsequent convictions will be a $150 fine and three points on a license.
And lastly, Heads Up Georgia includes these facts detailing why this Hands-Free Law is so important:
- The 15 states that have passed hands-free driving laws saw a 16 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in the two years after the law was passed. In addition, traffic fatalities were reduced even further in subsequent years. [Georgia is the 16th state to enforce hands-free driving]
- At 60mph, a vehicle will travel the length of a football field in just 5 seconds, which is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.
- Engaging in tasks such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 3,170 people were killed and 431,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2014.
To see a list of frequently asked questions regarding the law (Bluetooth capabilities, cell phone mounts and brackets, etc..), please visit Heads Up Georgia’s Hands-Free Law Information Page. And for any other questions regarding the new law that can’t be found on Heads Up Georgia or the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, try reaching out directly to the Governor’s Office.