The July 1st Hands-Free Act

by Bonnie Kallenberg

“House Bill 673 is the most significant change to Georgia’s driving rules since the 2010 banning of texting while driving”—AJC

Wait, texting while driving is illegal? Why do I see it every day I drive? How can we stop this dangerous habit when it’s already outlawed in Georgia?

On May 2, 2018, Governor Deal signed HB 673 surrounded by the families of the 5 Georgia nursing students who were hit and killed by a truck driver who was texting while driving behind them. This bill makes it illegal to hold or support using your body any wireless telecommunications device like a cell phone or stand-alone electronic device such as an iPod. You may not write, read or send a text or instant message, email or internet data while holding your device if you are driving. You may not drive and take photos or record a video or watch a movie…wait! Really? People drive and watch a movie, crazy right?? And of course, you may not hold your phone while on a phone call. It must be hands-free use of your device.

All of this makes perfect sense, of course, yet drivers endanger themselves and others every day in this state and it’s a hard law to enforce. It’s up to us to enforce this starting with ourselves. Put your phone away when you drive and concentrate on driving, which is a complicated skill by itself in our traffic snarled town.

Several months ago, I was in my car waiting at the light to get out of the furniture store parking lot. It’s a long light and pedestrians must wait a long time at the cross walk and they are often elderly or women with small children. The light turned red on College Ave. and mine turned green. I looked to the left and saw a white sedan driving at green light speed so I waited to see if she was going to break quickly at the light. Nope, she drove right through it, didn’t see it, or me. She would have hit any pedestrians crossing (thank goodness there were none) or me, if I had not had a suspicion that she wasn’t going to stop at the red light. As she ran the red light in front of me, I saw that she was holding her phone up and typing on it.

I was furious. I followed her as she pulled in a parking lot and gave her a piece of my mind. She apologized, then reamed me out with multiple expletives because I had the nerve to call her out on her illegal behavior. Man, I wish the Avondale Police had seen her run that light while texting. She’s a twenty-something brat with an invisible attitude and may one day kill someone. Maybe me calling her out made her think about it for a moment. Maybe not.

Driving deaths are up in Georgia each year as so many people are driving distracted. Don’t be one of those statistics or cause someone else to be a statistic on our roads.

Put your phone away when you drive. Turn on the radio. Enjoy the peace. Honor the law that goes into effect July 1, 2018.

For more information, you can read these AJC articles about the new law going into effect:

Transit law hailed as a milestone for metro Atlanta

Gridlock Guy: How drivers in other states have handled Hands-Free laws

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