Georgia is expected to join 15 other states that have passed laws that ban holding a cell phone while behind the wheel.
Currently, Georgia law forbids texting and driving, but both talking on a handheld cell phone and dialing are still legal.
HB673 aims to change that as an effort to reduce distracted driving accidents.
What is HB673?
HB673 basically prohibits drivers from holding a cell phone or another electronic device while they’re driving a car. The goal of the distracted driving bill is to make it easier for law enforcement to uphold driving laws. Since holding a phone to talk or dial is still currently legal, it’s difficult for police officers to prove that the driver in question was actually texting (and thus breaking the law) instead of just dialing or holding the phone.
Of course, the bill is also intended to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities on Georgia’s roads. The bill will raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and hopefully discourage people from taking their attention off the road by looking at a screen.
Since 2014, traffic fatalities in Georgia have gone up by 33 percent. The state alone faced 1,550 deaths last year, and it’s believed that cell phones are a big part of the jump. An estimate from Emory’s Injury Prevention Research Center puts the number of drivers on their phones at any given time at 7 percent.
So. The reason for the bill is clear. The numbers don’t lie.
When will the bill go into effect?
The bill has passed the Georgia General Assembly and now awaits Governor Deal’s approval (which it is expected to get.) The governor has 40 days from the bill’s passage on March 29 to sign the bill into law, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature.
What’s not legal?
Under the new bill, the following would be ILLEGAL:
• Holding a cell phone, wireless device, or another electronic (like an iPod)
• Writing, reading, or sending text (ex. text messages, email, IM or internet data)
• Reaching for a device so that you are no longer in a proper seated driving position with seatbelt restraint
• Watching a video or movie (other than navigation)
• Recording a video