What is the New Hands-Free Law in Georgia?
Distracted driving is something that most of us have been guilty of at some point in our driving career. Distractions come in many forms, from the buzzing cell phone to a poor night’s sleep to an excited child to a favorite song. Every day across the state of Georgia, people drive distracted. Hopefully, with the new hands-free law in Georgia, the number of distracted drivers will decrease.
As of July, Georgia is taking a new step to combat the distraction of talking on the cell phone. Texting while driving has been prohibited in Georgia since 2010. However, other uses of the phone, including having a conversation, are allowed under the previous law. That changes with the new Hands-Free Law in Georgia.
Atlanta, GA Car Accident Attorney on the New Hands-Free Law in Georgia
As a car accident lawyer serving Atlanta, GA, we know how dangerous cell phone use while driving can be. We hope that this new law will reduce the number of drivers distracted by cell phones. Georgia House Bill 673, otherwise known as the Hands-Free Georgia Act, was passed this year by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal this past May. This new Hands-Free Law in Georgia greatly expands the limitations previously placed on cell phones in the state.
The previous law prohibited texting while driving for anyone behind the wheel and prohibited all cell phone use for teenage drivers. Adult drivers, on the other hand, were free to talk on the phone while driving. However, studies continue to show that talking on a cell phone while driving, though not as distracting as texting, is still a major distraction. As a car accident attorney in Atlanta GA, we know all too well that talking on a cell phone has been the cause of many accidents across the state.
The new law prohibits touching a phone while driving for everyone, with very few exceptions. Under the new Hands-Free Law in Georgia, drivers cannot have a phone in their hands or touching any part of their body, such as sitting on their lap ‑ a popular spot for drivers wishing to mask their phone activities. The law prohibits cell phone use on private roads, city and county roads, and state maintained routes alike.
According to the new Hands-Free Law in Georgia, drivers can only make or receive calls using a speakerphone, earbuds or headphones, a vehicle’s sound system, or a smartwatch. Touching the phone, even to place a call or to answer an incoming call, is not permitted at all.
Advice from Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer
The new Hands-Free Law in Georgia has very few exceptions. Those exceptions almost all involve reporting emergencies on the road. Using the phone to report a car accident, medical emergency, criminal activity, fire, or road hazards will be permitted. Additionally, utility service employers or contractors will be permitted to use phones within the scope of their function as a utility worker while responding to an emergency. Similarly, first responders such as law enforcement, fire, and EMS have similar allowances within the scope of their duties.
The New Hands-Free Law in Georgia and Commercial Drivers: Insights from Atlanta Car Accident Attorneys
Drivers of commercial vehicles will face tighter restrictions under the new hands-free law in Georgia. Commercial truck drivers may continue to use wireless communication, but it must be operated by a single button within reach. Any activity requiring the driver to reach for a device or button is prohibited. School bus drivers are restricted in their use of two-way radios and wireless communications. The use of these devices while loading or unloading passengers is strictly prohibited. While these devices may be used while the bus is in motion, the only permitted use is for live communication between the driver and school. The only other permitted use is between the driver and public safety officials.
As car accident lawyers serving the Atlanta, Georgia region at the Bethune Law Firm, we recognize that the new hands-free law in Georgia represents a major change to state law regarding cell phone use while driving, and one that is, in our opinion, quite overdue. Our car accident attorneys see many victims of a car accident where the other driver was talking on the phone. It is our hope the new hands-free law will be taken seriously by drivers. Only then will it succeed in reducing the number of cell phone related accidents in Georgia.