Will You Get There Safely?

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Beginning July 1, 2018, Georgia motorists will have to put down their phones while they’re driving, thanks to the new Hands-Free Georgia Act. House Bill 673 also known as the “Hands Free Law” was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal. The following is a brief description of the law states and some frequently asked questions.

A link to the complete law can be found at www.gahighwaysafety.org.

  • A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch. GPS navigation devices are allowed.

  • Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.

  • A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS

  • A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content

  • A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.

  • A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt)

  • Music streaming apps can be used provided the driver activates and programs them when they are parked. Drivers cannot touch their phones to do anything to their music apps when they are on the road. Music streaming apps that include video also are not allowed since drivers cannot watch videos when on the road. Drivers can listen to and program music streaming apps that are connected to and controlled through their vehicle's radio.

  • The hands-free law does NOT apply to the following electronic communication devices and the following devices can be used by the driver when on the road: radio, citizens band radio, citizens band radio hybrid, commercial two-way radio communication device or its functional equivalent, subscription-based emergency communication device, prescribed medical device, amateur or ham radio device, or in-vehicle security, navigation, or remote diagnostics system.

Multitasking

courtesy McIntyre Law

courtesy McIntyre Law

Texting presents a very unique distraction while driving. Typically there are three main types of distractions:

Manual distractions:

Are those where you move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Pushing a button on the radio to change the station, would be a manual distraction.

Visual distractions:

Are those where you focus your eyes away from the road. Searching for a new station then programing a button on your radio: that’s a visual distraction.

Cognitive distraction:

Is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving. You start to consider which radio station to keep programmed and which one you no longer listen.

Texting while driving essentially involves all three types of distractions. Studies such as the one done by David Strayer of the University of Utah have found that texting while driving has an impairment the same as drunk driving and increases the risk of a motor vehicle incident by 8 times over non distracted driving.

A simple text message presents a distraction of 5 second, at 70 miles per hour, that equals to 525 feet where your attention is not on the road ahead.

6 Shocking Texting While Driving Facts

  • 1 out of 4 car accidents in the US are caused by texting while driving.

  • Over 2.5 million people in the U.S. are involved in road accidents each year. Of these, 1.6 million have a cell phone involved in them. That’s 64% of all the road accidents in the United States.

  • Texting and driving is 6 times more likely to get you in an accident than drunk driving.

  • Motorists texting while driving have response times 35% slower than those motorists who are not occupied with texting. Compare that to motorists driving legally drunk who have response times that are just 12% slower than motorists not under the influence.

  • Everyday, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving.

  • A study at the University of Utah found out that the reaction time for a teen using a cell phone is the same as that of a 70 year old who isn’t using one.

Several cell phone safety tips to follow while driving:

  • Avoid making calls or texting while you’re driving.

  • If you must call or text while driving, pull over at a safe location and then use your phone, or wait until congestion eases and roadways are safer.

  • Don’t answer the phone if you’re in a difficult driving situation.

  • If you’re talking and the situation becomes hazardous, hang up or stop talking and concentrate on the road.

  • Turn off your phone when driving.

For more safety information for you and your family, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!