The high rates of people being injured due to texting and driving prompted the vast majority of states to ban the practice by passing a variety of distracted driving laws. Georgia recently joined 15 other states in passing a more stringent Hands Free Law that forces drivers to either pay attention or pay the penalty.
But the law that went into effect on July 1 has created a great deal of confusion about what drivers can and cannot lawfully do while operating a motor vehicle. The Hands Free Law, like its counterparts in other states, extends much further than just texting on a cell phone.
What You Can and Cannot Do Under the Hands Free Law
When getting behind the wheel, it’s important for Georgia drivers to understand what the Hands Free Law includes. These are some of the common misconceptions about the new regulations.
- No More GPS: Although Georgians have raised some concerns about using their GPS when traveling, it remains a viable option under the new regulations. The GPS unit or Google maps app on your phone is allowable as long as you do not hold it in your hand. Mounting it ranks among the best legal options.
- Holding A Phone When Stopped: The legal use of a phone and other device is based on being “legally parked.” Holding a phone while at a red light could result in a citation. Park the vehicle and turn off the engine to make certain you are not ticketed.
- Playing Videos: One of the interesting caveats to the Hands Free Law is that it goes further than just hands free. Like other distracted driving laws, watching a YouTube or other video while driving is against the rules because it places others in danger.
- Voice Technology: This ranks among the best options for drivers who want to engage in communication. Most phones can be synched with newer vehicles through Bluetooth and other programs. Law enforcement does not generally consider responsible communication a violation of the recent Hands Free Law.
- Fiddling Around: The recently implemented Georgia law does not change policies based on distracted driving laws. If a driver is overly engaged in fiddling with stereo channels, eating a sandwich or other things that could place people at risk, you could be subject to a citation.
The current penalties leveled under the new Hands Free Law begin with a $50 fine and one point against your driver’s license. Penalties increase with each offense and could result in loss of license. But the greater danger is that other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are at increased risk.
Hands Free Law Designed to Curb Personal Injury
The continued enhancement of distracted driving laws such as Georgia’s Hands Free Law is a direct response to the serious injury, bodily harm, and fatalities suffered by Americans.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people lost their lives as a result of distracted driving in 2016. More than 390,000 people were hurt during crashes caused by distracted driving in 2015. Despite the harm, a half-million people continue to operate their cell phone while behind the wheel.
The result of such driver negligence has had a devastating impact on the lives of everyday Georgia families. Injuries, lost wages, high medical bills, pain, suffering and diminished quality of life are reasons why the Hands Free Law is important to communities.
If you or a loved one has suffered a loss due to a distracted driver’s negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney, such as Accidents Wreck Lives and get the full, fair compensation you deserve. Call 800-400-GA-LAW to get started!