If you haven’t heard by now, Georgia has a new Hands Free law when it comes to using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. This law is much more than just not talking or texting while you are driving. Starting on July 1, drivers will NOT be able to do any of the following:
- Hold a cell phone or electronic device in their hand or use any part of the body to handle it.
- Use earphones or headsets to listen to music. They can only be used for communication.
- Text, read, or send any text messages, emails, or social media content. Only voice-command messages may be sent.
- Watch videos unless it is for GPS purposes.
- Record videos unless it is a dash camera that is running continuously.
- Operate music streaming apps (Spotify, Pandora, etc.) while driving. Drivers are expected to set up their music before they begin driving. Music that has videos are also prohibited since drivers are not allowed to watch/record videos while operating a vehicle.
Drivers will be allowed to access their phones in these circumstances:
- Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, criminal activity, or dangerous road conditions.
- If you are an employee of a utility service provider on the job and have to communicate due to a utility emergency.
- First responders who are on the job and have to communicate for your duties.
- Your vehicle is legally parked. This does not include at stop signs or traffic lights.
If caught, you could just be given a warning on your first offense, but officers will also be giving out tickets, even to first time offenders. To avoid getting a ticket due to distracted driving (and potentially causing your auto insurance premium to increase), be sure to buy hands free accessories, like a cell phone holder that attaches to your windshield/dashboard, air vent, or lighter port. If your vehicle is not set up for Bluetooth capability, then look in to purchasing a headset or ear piece so you will be able to talk on your phone “hands free” without holding it. This new law may seem like an inconvenience at first, but its purpose is to make drivers pay attention to what is going on outside of their vehicle instead of focusing on a screen.