Distracted driving is one of the biggest menaces on the roads of Georgia. In early 2018, state legislators discussed a ‘hands-free’ distracted driving bill that would tighten up the rules for cell phone use at the wheel.
A study committee began discussing and taking evidence on this important topic in February. State Representative John Carson of Marietta who is behind the bill wants to see Georgia become a hands-free state. In March, the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee
Although texting while driving on a hand-held device is illegal in Georgia, there are many gray areas in between.
Under Carson’s bill, Georgia drivers would not even be able to touch their phones while driving unless they made or ended a call or used GPS navigation.
Carson said the bill would save lives. He said:
“I can’t tell you how many people, mothers, fathers and grandparents have cried on my shoulder because they’ve lost their daughter or they lost their son because of texting. It was just a Facebook post. It was just a Twitter repost.”
The bill is intended to persuade drivers to use hands-free devices. Drivers who failed to comply would commit a misdemeanor. The fines imposed would be set by local judges, reported Macon.com.
The potential fines under the original bill would have ranged from $150 to $300 for the first offense, $250 to $500 for the second time and $500 to $700 for the third offense. The Senate committee voted to reduce the first-time offender fine to $75.
If fines are not paid within 90 days, a violator’s driving license may be suspended. Reinstatement would entail the payment of the fees and another $50 penalty.
Points assessed against a driver’s license for violating the law would increase from 1 to 3 for the first offense and to 4 for offenses after that.
As smartphones became more sophisticated, the epidemic of distracted driving rose on the roads of America. Last year we noted how distracted driving is more acute in the southern states.
The most serious distracted driving problem occurs in Mississippi. In this state, drivers use their phones, either for texting or talking, on almost half of their trips.
Florida ranks second on the insurance company Everquote’s list of states with the highest proportion of drivers who use their cellphones while driving.
In 2015, 3,477 people were killed, and a further 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you have been injured or lost a family member in a wreck involving a distracted driver, please call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.