It appears that Georgia drivers may soon be required to go hands-free with their mobile devices while driving, if the Hands-Free Georgia Act becomes law.
Proposed recently by State Representative John Carson (District 46), HB 673 would outlaw drivers from holding or supporting their cell phone or mobile device while driving. It also would ban drivers from texting, watching YouTube, recording a video, streaming Netflix or looking at social media websites while driving. According to Carson, HB 673 is a common-sense bill that will save lives.
Many more Georgia lives are being lost to car accidents, with some of them caused by distracted driving. Traffic crashes in Georgia increased by 36% in only 24 months, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. In 2017, 1,550 people were killed in car accidents on Georgia roads. This is more than four fatalities per day.
This higher rate of accidents is leading to higher auto insurance costs. Rep. Carson noted recently that the state’s average premium was double the U.S. average. He also noted that 82% of voters in Georgia think that texting and driving is a major cause of the increase in car accidents.
Current Law Is Unenforceable
Georgia does have a law in effect today that bans texting and Internet use. But law enforcement has complained that it is difficult to enforce. Police officers cannot easily determine whether the driver is texting or is dialing a phone number.
The proposed legislation would allow drivers to do the following:
- Speak and text while using hands-free technology
- Use a GPS system
- Use a CB radio
- Using a handheld electronic device would be allowed while driving to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, crime or dangerous road condition.
Other states have enacted laws like the Hands-Free Georgia Act, Carson says. A legislative study committee found that of the 15 U.S. states that have similar laws, 13 of them have seen a 16% decline in traffic deaths within 24 months of law passage. If this happens in Georgia, it could save at least 250 lives.
Mann Law Firm Supports the Hands-Free Georgia Act
The Mann Law Firm has represented car accident victims in Macon and in Georgia for more than 50 years. In recent years, our attorneys have seen more serious accidents caused by distracted driving, particularly cell phone use. That is why we support the passage of the Hands-Free Georgia Act.
When we investigate a car accident, we closely examine whether distracted driving was a possible cause. Our hope is the passage of this law will reduce the chances of these distracted driving accidents from happening in our state.