Assuming you’re not taking the entire week off for the Fourth of July, a new law is now in effect for your Monday morning commute, and police officers are already writing tickets across Georgia.
House Bill 673, also known as the Hands-Free Law, took effect Sunday, banning virtually all data-driven use of your cellphone while operating a motor vehicle statewide. In short, you’ll want to invest in a car mount and a bluetooth headset, if you haven’t already.
It is now illegal to touch your cellphone with any part of your body – most of us use our fingers, but who am I to judge? – while driving, the new law states. That means no texting, talking on the phone (unless you use the speaker or a bluetooth headset), shooting Instagram stories or doing anything that will distract you from noticing that THE LIGHT TURNED GREEN LIKE 15 SECONDS AGO, NUMBSKULL.
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You’re still allowed to use navigation apps while attempting to navigate Atlanta traffic, but you’ll need to set it before your journey begins and leave it alone after that. If you’re spotted messing with the Waze or Google Maps apps while in motion, or even while stopped at a red light or stop sign, you’ll be cited.
Other than navigation, watching pretty much anything on your phone is prohibited.
The law went into effect with no grace period, so you’ll need to break that habit really fast. If you’re pulled over because a police officer caught you using your phone, be nice; the officer does reserve the right to only issue a warning within the first 90 days.
“Our state has seen significant increases in vehicle traffic crashes, fatalities and bodily injury,” said a release on the law. “The vast majority of these increases have been in rear-end crashes, single-car crashes and crashes by drivers from 15 to 25-years-old. State and local law enforcement have stated that these incidents are a clear indication of driver inattention.”
The release also said the 15 states that passed hands-free laws reduced traffic fatalities by 16 percent in the first two years, and even more after that.
If caught, you’ll be fined $50 on the first offense, $100 on the second and $150 on the third. Drive safe!Follow @Sean_Breslin