Georgia House Votes to Ditch Loophole in Distracted Driving Law
The measure, House Bill 247, is part of a broader effort to end a dangerous habit that has contributed to thousands of traffic fatalities. It passed 119-52 with no debate ahead of a “crossover day” deadline.
Lawmakers in 2018 adopted the Hands-Free Georgia Act, which prohibits motorists from handling cellphones and other wireless devices while driving. But it also included a provision that requires judges to dismiss charges against first offenders who bring a receipt for a hands-free device to court.
The “get out of jail free” provision allows motorists to demonstrate they intended to comply with the law in the future. It’s hard to tell how many citations have been dismissed because of it, but last year The AJC found it was used thousands of times a year in Atlanta alone.
HB 247, which now moves to the Senate, would eliminate that provision. It also would tweak the fines for distracted driving violations. Under existing law, a first offense costs up to $50, but judges can set lower fines. The new bill would impose a flat $50 fine for a first offense.
How to prevent distracted driving?
What drivers can do: Do not multitask while driving. Whether it’s adjusting your mirrors, picking the music, eating a sandwich, making a phone call, or reading an email―do it before or after your trip, not during.
What passengers can do: Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to focus on driving. Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
Defensive driving participants learn about the current rules of the road and how to operate their vehicles more safely in today’s increasingly challenging driving environment.
Maintaining proper following distance
Minimizing the effect of dangerous blind spots
Limiting driver distractions such as eating, smoking, and cell phone use
Properly using safety belts, airbags, and all car features
Effects of medications on driving
Maintaining physical flexibility
Monitoring the driving skills and capabilities of yourself and others
There is a lot of very useful and informative information offered in our classes and it will apply whether you have been driving for years or you are a brand new driver!