How the New Hands-Free Bill Passed by Georgia Legislation Could Make Roads Safer
With the midnight deadline for the legislature fast approaching, the Georgia House and Senate traded versions of House Bill 673 until both sides finally agree upon language that satisfied both chambers of the legislature. The Bill was about to become irrelevant at midnight until the House and Senate passed the proposed legislation. Now it sits on Governor Deal's desk to await his signature before it becomes Georgia law.
Proponents of the distracted driving bill believe that the new law fills in the void left by existing Georgia statutes. Those legislators believe that the latest version of the law gives law enforcement an opportunity to prevent auto wrecks caused by drivers paying more attention to their electronic devices than the road. Assuming that Governor Deal signs the bill as it exists currently, the bill would prohibit:
- Using, handling, or supporting a wireless communication device or another electronic device while the car is in motion,
- Drafting, reviewing, or reading any text message, e-mail, instant message, or internet website while driving,
- Watching a screen other than the screendepicting a GPS navigation screen or map-based navigation,
- Stretching for an electronic device or other objectthat moves the driver from the proper driving position. The proper driving position is determined by how the driver would sit if using his or her seatbelt, and
- Creating a video.
- Speaking in to or using voice-to-texthands-freedevice,
- Using GPS or mobile app to navigate,
- Wearing and using a so-called "Smart Watch,"
- Wearing an earpiece to use the telephone,
- Using a CB radio or similar device,
- Calling the police to report an emergency or crime, and
- Using your phone while you are not driving your car.
The proposed law exempts first responders such as police and fire in the course of their duties. Personal use of an electronic device would violate the law.
House Bill 673 should be a reflection of public opinionin Georgia, as reflected by the votes of the legislators elected by the populous. However, many people opposed the bill because law enforcement would receive greater authority to intrude into our daily lives. It is true that some freedoms must yield to protection from the government. Thefact remains is that Georgia would not need this law and could get by with the existing statutes if Georgians would simply hang up and drive.
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