As of Sunday, July 1, 2018, it is no longer legal to handle your cellphone while driving in the state of Georgia. This is a law that has been long in coming, and early police reports indicate that drivers are paying attention.
Focused on phones
Many people think the new distracted driving law should have been enacted much sooner since smartphone ownership has increased significantly in recent years: From 2014 to 2016, it rose from 75 percent to 81 percent. Furthermore, the way people use their phones has changed. Calling has taken a backseat to texting, sending emails, surfing the internet and checking out the latest information and photos from various social media sites. These kinds of distractions pose a danger to drivers as well as the motorists around them, and the new law is intended to answer the need for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
About the new law
Seen as the greatest change in a generation to traffic laws in this state, the new law comes with fines that start at $50 for the first ticket and $50 in increasing increments for each citation thereafter. You can comply with the law and still use your GPS as long as you do not hold your phone while doing so. It is still permissible to use voice-to-text capabilities. To physically pick up and use your cellphone, you must be legally parked, which means at the side of the road, not at a stop sign or red light.
The short version
Here are the prohibitions while driving:
- You cannot send or read any text-based communication while holding your cellphone
- You cannot watch a video or movie unless it involves data related to your map or GPS navigation aids
- You cannot record a video
Why the new law matters
A personal injury attorney will tell you that motorists who engage in texting and other cellphone-related activities can cause horrendous crashes, and you could be the victim who sustains life-changing injuries. The purpose of the new Georgia law is to reduce crashes of this sort because, quite simply, they are entirely avoidable.