We all know how frustrating it can be driving behind someone who is distracted by talking on their cell phone. Studies show that it’s not only distracting, but it’s unsafe as well. Because of the increased injuries and fatalities related to unsafe cell phone usage and distracted driving, one city in Georgia has decided to take action and become the first city in Georgia with a law on the books banning the use of hands free cell phone use. It’s become Georgia’s first hands free driving law.
The move was made by the City Council in Smyrna, Georgia as an attempt to force the State to enact the same such measures. Smyrna is not the only city to consider this type of law. What does this mean for drivers?
The State Law
Currently State law prohibits all texting while driving. Only bus drivers and drivers under 18 are prohibited from using the cell phone while driving. It is unclear whether Smyrna’s new law will provoke the State to take a stronger stance. However, it is clear that the intent of Smryna’s new law was to provoke the State into going further with the existing law by adding the following as a few notable points about their ordinance:
- the law will go into effect April 2 after the Georgia General Assembly concludes to see if the lawmakers make any changes.
- no points will count against insurance policies for violations.
- a $150 maximum fine.
- maybe traffic court for $75.
- one-touch rule allowed to turn on the hands-free device.
- a two-year limit when the law will be reevaluated.
The Bottom Line
It’s coming. Whether this law comes from the State this year or another, it’s coming. Other cities are currently in process of similar ordinances. Research shows a link between distracted driving related to hand held phones and accidents. According to the CDC, “Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.” (See https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html) This raises insurance, causes arrests and kills people. The reality is this: with so many new options in technology, there are ways to use the phone without holding it, if you must absolutely use the phone.
Many cars have a method to connect phones directly through the speaker system. If you have never used it and your car or truck is 2004 or newer, you may have the ability. Research it, have a friend show you or take it to a car shop. Once you learn how to connect it, it’s very simple to use.
Hands Free Mode
Most phones have an In Car or Hands Free Mode. This allows you to touch one button and everything goes to voice activated. It’s very simple to use. Depending on your model of phone, you can provide verbal commands such as “call David Crawford” and it will dial his office.
If you are about to engage in a heated discussion, it is best to wait until you are not driving. Even with a hands free device, distracted driving can be caused by anything that takes your focus off of the road. If you have a conversation with a person who owes you money, for example, but is refusing to pay you, you may become upset enough that it affects your driving. It only takes a second for an accident to happen.
As always, if you find that you have been arrested or need representation for a traffic ticket, please contact our office. David Crawford has the experience you need to help you. He will take the time to understand your concerns and help protect your record.Contact Us