What You Need to Know About Georgia’s Distracted Driving Bill
If you follow along with the work we do here at Litner + Deganian, you know we’re passionate about helping the public better understand the dangers of distracted driving. Just this spring, we hosted a college scholarship contest to create an infographic combining statistics on distracted driving with powerful visual imagery. We regularly see clients reaching out to an Atlanta car accident attorney after a distracted driving crash, so we know something needs to change on our roads to make everyone safer.
Earlier this year, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 673 into law, stepping up the regulations Georgia already had in place against texting while driving. And while the new Georgia distracted driving bill is a great start to getting more folks paying attention to the road, it’s a bit complicated when it comes to what you can and can’t do. To keep you safe (and on the right side of the law when the bill goes into effect July 1), we’ve broken down Georgia’s new distracted driving rules into easy-to-understand points.
Put the phone down. No, really
Holding or even supporting your phone or stand-alone electronic device will now be illegal. Even if you’re dialing a call, not texting or using social media, you can still get a ticket. And do not believe the rumors: There’s no 90-day grace period after this new cell phone law goes into effect.
About texting… still out
The new distracted driving bill will prohibit drivers from writing, sending, or reading text communications. This means no checking apps, reading emails, or posting to social accounts. You can compose and send a text using hands-free technology, however (more on that below).
Watch the road, not your phone
Unless it’s a GPS screen or mapping app, videos and movies are also out with the new distracted driving law. And, just in case you wanted to live stream your drive, recording a video is now illegal.
Speaking or texting with hands-free technology are both fine according to the new law, as are earpieces and the use of smartwatches. That’s why a lot of folks are calling House Bill 673 Georgia’s hands-free law.
This is one where you may wish to take your own personal distracted driving pledge a step further, however. While it’s better to use these technologies than it is to text and drive, they still take your attention off the road. For most folks, that call or text can wait.
Map your trip
Both mapping apps and GPS systems are okay to use, according to the new distracted driving law. Just be sure to plug in your destination before you hit the road. If you’re lost and confused about directions, pull over somewhere safe to review the route.
Listen to music
You can still use your radio or even play music on your phone, so long as you’re using it with hands-free technology.
A few other things to remember before you take to the roads July 1. In an emergency, like a car crash, medical event, or fire, you can use your phone to call for help without worrying about the Georgia hands-free law. Police officers, firefighters, utility professionals responding to an emergency, and some other professionals are also exempt from the law when they are working.
We know for many folks, distracted driving is a problem that’s hard to kick, and it helps to have reminders about its dangers and consequences. House Bill 673 came into being in large part due to the work of victims’ families—people who had their lives turned around by distracted drivers. Just this May, seven-month-old Nolan Bennett was seriously injured in a head-on collision with a distracted driver in Atlanta. The at-fault driver told police he was lost and looking at his GPS when he crossed the yellow line. Nolan, who broke every bone in his neck according to his mother, faces possible lifelong disability because of another driver’s negligence.
If you’ve been injured in a wreck caused by a distracted driver, you need a car accident attorney in Georgia. At Litner + Deganian, we’ll fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact your Atlanta car accident attorney for a free consultation at our office, conveniently located in Druid Hills near Emory and Decatur.