Georgia has become the latest state to ban the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed H.B. 673 into law on May 2, making Georgia the 16th state to ban using a cellphone, including texting, shooting video or reading off a cellphone while driving, unless drivers have a hands-free device. The use of GPS while driving is still allowed.
The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2018, after which time first time offenders caught with a wireless device while driving will face a fine of $150. A first offense will also add three points to a driver’s license.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI), which supported the law, praised its passage in a statement.
“Vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply in Georgia. Distracted driving is a leading cause of auto crashes, not just in Georgia but nationwide. Statistics show that simple changes in driver behavior can make a big difference in improving road safety, saving lives, and controlling insurance costs for consumers,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI regional manager, state government relations. “Strong auto safety laws and enforcement are an important step in combating a growing distracted driving epidemic that is endangering everyone on the road.”
The Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit association representing highway safety offices nationwide, also spoke out in support of the law, and urged other states to follow suit.
“Despite widespread awareness of the risks, many drivers still engage in distracting behaviors,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “GHSA urges all states to ban handheld cell phone use behind the wheel and all motorists to refrain from all distractions and commit their full attention to driving. Congratulations to the State of Georgia for this notable achievement.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct an error regarding the amount of the fee for first-time offenders. The correct amount is $150 per violation.
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