Get up to speed on new law now

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Distracted driving is a danger to everybody on the road. The new statewide hands-free law, which takes effect July 1, is attempting to make streets safer and reduce the number of distracted driving wrecks we see each year.

Some people are still confused about the law and what it entails. The new hands-free driving law does not make running applications like Spotify or Pandora, Bluetooth or GPS illegal. Driving with a phone in your hand or on any body part while using them is illegal under the new law.

Beware that texting and driving is already illegal and police can pull you over for it regardless of when the new law takes effect.

Under the new law, headsets and ear pieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other communication.

With the new law, it’s only OK to hold your phone to report traffic crashes, medical emergencies, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions. First responders are allowed to use their phones when performing their official duties.

Phones can only be used when a vehicle is lawfully parked. Georgia code defines parked as “standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.” Parked doesn’t mean being at stop sign or parking lot.

Penalties can increase up to $150 for a third conviction, but that’s minor to a possible cause of death.

When we study for our driver’s license, it’s common to hear that driving is not a right, but a privilege. And it is. We’re moving heavy machinery at high rates of speed.

Thousands of people die each year due to distracted driving. Put your phone down and focus on the road.