Cell Phone Use While Driving - GA Laws, Stats, Horrors
One of the most dangerous things a driver can do on the road is to use their cell phone. Distracted driving or driving while using a handheld phone is a serious road hazard and a pressing issue, especially for younger drivers. The University of Chicago and the University of Texas have both found in their research that the mere presence of a smartphone, even if it is shut off or faced down, reduces a driver’s cognitive capacity and performance. Another study by Carnegie Mellon University concluded that listening to a cell phone lowered the brain activity associated with driving by 37%.
Cell phones are ingrained into our daily lives, from veteran drivers to teenagers fresh out of driving school. These pocket-sized devices can capture the attention of any person and distract and stop them from completing their job. Cell phone use while driving is hazardous and can cause serious injury, even death.
Cell phone use and distracted driving have become one of the leading causes of vehicular crashes in the past two decades. In fact, texting while driving is the leading cause of teen car accidents - 6 Common Causes of Teen Car Accidents.
In 2015 a survey found that over six hundred and sixty thousand drivers in America used their cell phones behind the wheel every day. In 2018 alone, 2,841 people died as a result of distracted driving in the United States. One in five were pedestrians, cyclers, or outside the vehicle.
Distracted Driving in Georgia
Georgia was high on the list when it came to fatalities and injuries caused directly by distracted driving. In 2019, about half (56%) of motor vehicle crashes involved at least one confirmed or suspected distracted driver. There were 761,915 reported drivers involved in the motor crashes on Georgia roadways, 4% of which were confirmed to be distracted seconds before impact, and 52% were speculated to be distracted drivers. In the same year, there were a total of 1,376 fatal crashes in Georgia, and 1,491 people were fatally injured. In addition, 43 crashes reported confirmed distracted drivers.
These statistics were collected after Georgia’s Hands-Free Law or the “no texting while driving law” was passed on 1st July 2018, making it illegal for drivers (including young drivers) to physically hold or support a hand held/wireless communication device while driving.
Even so, teenage drivers and younger drivers aged between 25 to 34 years represented 18% of all licensed drivers in 2019. After a crash, they receive the most distracted driving citations, more convictions for distracted driving, and are more involved with distracted driving-related motor cases than any other age group.
Georgia Cell Phone Driving Law
The severity of the situation and the rising number of crashes caused by cell phones led many jurisdictions of the United States to pass laws making calling on a phone while driving illegal. Other states have completely illegalized the use of mobile phones while driving. However, some areas allow the use of hands-free devices. These laws also vary from the driver’s profile.
While some rules may affect only minor drivers, others apply to all drivers including commercial drivers. States including Georgia, Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, etc., have made using hand-held phones while driving illegal.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act
The Hands-Free Georgia Act was implemented on July 1, 2018. According to this act, drivers cannot have a phone or similar devices in their hands or on their bodies while driving. This includes phones tucked in the driver’s lap or between the ears and shoulders.
The law prohibits the following while driving:
Sending or writing texts
Accessing the internet
Updating social media
Taking photos or recording videos
While drivers can listen to music, the device must be hands-free
GA law does not allow teens to use their phone even for map apps until they are 18
The act limits the usage of cell phones and technology including those over 18. However, it does not entirely ban smart devices or applications. For example, while texting is banned, drivers may still use voice to text. Similarly, GPS devices may be used and programmed as long as they do not require physical touch, and the driver is at least 18.
The initial penalties for violating the Hands-Free Georgia Act seem minor at first, but the degree increases for repeat offenders. A first conviction results in one point on the driver’s license and a $50 fine. A second conviction will mean a doubled fine and a point penalty. The third conviction means tripled fine, or $150, and three points added to the record. The second or subsequent convictions will only be received if it occurs within two years of the first. Several conventions within 24 months may result in a fine of $300 or more and may even have the driver’s license revoked or suspended.
Athens Driving Prep is dedicated to teaching you the safest driving practices and ensuring you have the knowledge and know-how to be a safe, confident, and responsible driver. Using your cell phone while driving is NOT WORTH IT and AGAINST THE LAW. Do not learn this the hard way. Whether you are a teen or an adult, we will help you become the best driver you can be. Join our driving school today.