Local law enforcement agencies prepare for 'Hands Free' law to take effect
Hands-Free will be the new Georgia law starting July 1.
(WTVM) - Authorities hope this new distracted driving law will reduce the number of traffic fatalities and accidents in the state.
"If a law enforcement officer sees a driver with a phone in their hands or acting in any manner where they have a phone supported on their body, they will pull you over," said Robert Hydrick, communications manager for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
Law enforcement officers say they are preparing drivers to go hands-free before the law goes in effect.
"People have been talking on their phones while driving for three decades and this is going to be a behavior change. That is why we are asking people to go ahead and do it now," said Hydrick.
Hydrick recommends drivers utilize Bluetooth technology or setting phones to ‘do not disturb’ while behind the wheel.
The law will require drivers to restrain from holding or supporting a phone or device while driving. See examples below:
- Using a hand-held phone or device to write, send, or read texts, message, emails while driving
- Watching a video on your phone or device while driving
- Recording a video on your phone or device while driving
Under the new law, Georgia drivers will be able to:
- Talk on the phone or text using hands-free technology,
- Use a GPS system
- Listen to a music app
- Wear/use a smartwatch
- Use an earpiece to talk on the phone
- Use phones in an emergency situation like a traffic accident or medical emergency
- Talk on the phone if you are legally parked, not at a stop light
In Lagrange, officers are preparing for the new law to take effect.
"For the first 30 days, we will be issuing warnings. After the first 30 days, we can't promise if someone is going to get a warning of citation," said Officer Clint Gibson with the Lagrange Police Department.
Gibson says distracted driving is a constant problem in the city. Responding to more than 2,000 accidents per year, Lagrange police say there's a higher chance of people being in an accident than a victim of a crime.
"We have approximately 2,400 accidents per year. To put that into perspective, the city of Lagrange has about 1,700 part one crimes per year. Part one crimes include robbery, aggravated assault, and murder," said Gibson.
Gibson, along with law enforcement officers throughout the state hope the new law will drastically decrease the issue.
Law enforcement, first responders, and utility employees responding to a utility emergency will be exempt from the law.
Violators will be cited with tickets starting at $50 and one point against their license.
While it is not mandated, officials also recommend people buy a car mount for their phones.
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