July 1 marked the second anniversary of the Hands-Free Georgia Act, which bans drivers from using their hands to operate a smartphone. The law’s purpose is to reduce distracted driving in Georgia and thus have fewer deaths and serious injuries in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.
How has the law worked so far? It is probably too soon to tell.
Nearly 50,000 citations by state troopers
We do know that the Georgia State Patrol wrote exactly 49,535 citations to distracted drivers from July 1, 2018, through June 28 of this year. That figure does not include tickets written by local police. Clearly, troopers and police have not been shy about citing motorists for holding their phones behind the wheel.
Tickets that catch distracted drivers in the act could stop a dangerous wreck from happening, and the $50 fine for a first offense might motivate drivers to focus on the road from now on. On the other hand, we cannot say that speeding tickets have eliminated that danger from Georgia’s highways and streets.
Turning around a tragic trend
Another thing we know is that the rising trend of fatal car accidents began to turn around after the hands-free law went into effect. In Georgia, fatalities in auto accidents went up about 33 percent from 2014-2016. In 2018, they went down 2.2 percent. It is certainly possible that the distracted driving law helped.
Two years is probably not enough time to know for sure what impact the Hands-Free Georgia Act is having. But the law is part of a national trend of states trying to confront the United States’ addiction to distracted driving. Though drivers have been distracted by things like food, the radio and passengers for decades, experts agree that it was when cellphones became widely available that distracted driving became especially dangerous.
Distracted driving never is safe
Driving a car, SUV or truck is a huge responsibility that requires the driver’s complete focus. Splitting your attention between the road and your phone can easily lead to a car accident that badly injures innocent people. If you have been injured in a car crash with a distracted driver, you need to know your rights to compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney for more information.