It’s illegal for drivers in Georgia to handle their phone at the wheel. Despite considerable publicity about Georgia’s new distracted driving law, it has not deterred many motorists from handling their phones.

A recent article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested many drivers are still prepared to flout the law and risk a fine.

According to AAA, three-quarters of Georgia members surveyed a month after the new law came into effect said they see other drivers holding a phone regularly or fairly often at the wheel. About 60 percent witnessed other drivers texting.

The AAA Georgia Distracted Driving survey of 1,171 members was conducted from Aug. 6-14. It was an early indicator that motorists are not changing their behavior in light of the new distracted driving law.

What Does Georgia’s New Distracted Driving Law Do?

Georgia’s new hand-held driving law came into effect on July 1. Under the legislation, a driver is banned from holding a hand-held electronic device or using any other body part, such as balancing a phone between the neck and the shoulder.

This Georgia ban is stricter than those in many other U.S. states. Drivers can only wear headsets and earpieces for hands-free communication. They cannot be used as listening devices.

Drivers cannot send messages or check social media. They are prohibited from sending any text-based communication with the exception of using voice-based services like Siri and Alexa.

Although the AAA survey suggested the new legislation is being widely flouted it contained one positive piece of news for safety advocates. It found 98 percent of members surveyed were aware of the new hands-free law. Although the law allows hands-free communication, AAA warns that even hands-free phone use is dangerous and distracting behind the wheel.

Garrett Townsend, the group’s Georgia public affairs director, said:

“While hands-free applications allow a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, this may unintentionally provide motorists a false sense of security behind the wheel. Mental distractions – anything that takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving—are just as dangerous as taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.”

Distracted driving is a major cause of car, truck and motorcycle accidents. According to TeenSafe, distracted driving accounts for approximately about a quarter of all motor vehicle crash deaths.

Teen drivers are more likely than other drivers to be looking at electronic devices as they drive. The site says driver distraction is responsible for as many as 58 percent of teen deaths. Every year, almost 400,000 injuries are caused by distractions in the United States.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in and around Newnan or Atlanta, please call the Law Office of Michael West today at (404) 913-1529.