Georgia’s new distracted driving law went into effect on July 1 of 2018 making it unlawful for motorists to hold mobile or standalone electronic devices while driving. The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits vehicle operators from dialing with their fingers, sending and reading text messages or emails, watching movies and playing video games. Have things improved?
As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, law enforcement officials issued more than 22,000 citations for distracted driving between July 1, 2018, and May 31, 2019. Citations issued in the Atlanta Metro region topped more than 17,000. Motorists caught with a device in their hands may face penalties that include fines and points added to their driver records.
Reducing traffic fatalities
Reportedly, the volume of fatal accidents in Georgia fell 2.2% since the new distracted driving law went into effect. Auto insurance claims for property damage and collisions reportedly also fell.
In the years prior to the law’s passage, 27% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents were in their 20s, as noted by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia. Cellphones contributed to 38% of these fatalities.
Using cellphones at red lights
Before motorists had cellphones, the most common forms of distractions resulted from fiddling with the radio, putting on makeup and eating fast food from a drive-thru. Today, drivers stopped at red lights or in traffic may pull out their devices to watch videos or send text messages. The Hands-Free Georgia Act, however, prohibits engaging with a device while on the road, which includes while stopped at a red light. Pulling over and parking the vehicle before using a device, however, may not result in a citation.
Driving distracted continues
Even with the new distracted driving law and numerous traffic tickets issued, vehicle operators in the Peach State reportedly still handle mobile devices while driving. Sadly, Georgia’s motorists and pedestrians may still have a good reason to remain concerned over the possibility of roadway accidents caused by a distracted driver.