Statistics by the National Safety Council show using cell phones while driving accounts for 1.6 million accidents every year. It also shows that one out of four car crashes is caused by texting while driving. These accidents lead to over 300,000 injuries across the United States. These figures are not pleasing which is why many states have implemented a hands-free law. According to a study, 15 states with this law in place have experienced about 16% reduction in car crashes. Georgia recently implemented a hands-free driving law of its own that is expected to reduce distracted driving crashes.
The law did not have the usual 90-day grace period. As of 1st July 2018, all drivers were expected to adhere to it. During the first days, many drivers were let off with a warning. This was a way to give them a chance to learn about the new law. However, police officers are now making arrests to reduce car accidents. If you were in an accident due to a distracted driver, you will need a great car accident lawyer to assist you.
What a Car Accident Lawyer Will Tell You About the New Hands-Free Laws in Atlanta, GA
Smartphones and technology have become the number one distraction for drivers, keeping their eyes off the road. The law prohibits any contact with a phone while driving, with a few exceptions. Your car accident attorney should help you understand the law, so you will not break it. It is essential to familiarize yourself with those laws:
- While driving, you are not allowed to hold their phone or support it with any part of their body. If one has to make or receive a call, he or she should use a speakerphone, wireless headset, or earpiece.
- A driver is not allowed to read or write any text message, social media content or email while driving. The exception is when using a speech to text application.
- One is not allowed to record a video while driving unless it is a continuously running dash camera.
- A driver cannot watch any kinds of videos while driving in Atlanta, GA. The exception is when watching navigational videos.
- A driver is allowed to listen to music streaming from their phone that does not have any video. However, they are not allowed to touch the phone such as to skip a track or change the playlist. If one needs to change their playlist or anything similar, they should do it before starting to drive. If you find yourself in an accident in which the other driver was in violation of any of these laws, you need an excellent car accident attorney on your side.
Exceptions to the Hands-Free Law
There are some exceptions to the laws outlined above. They apply to:
- Medical emergencies, car crashes, crimes or any activity that affects road users.
- First responders such as firefighters and police officers when carrying out their official duties.
- Utility service providers carrying out their responsibilities when answering emergency calls.
- A legally parked car. This does not include when one stops at a red light, stop sign or a roadblock.
- There are also other laws governing commercial truck drivers and school bus drivers such as:
- Commercial truck drivers are only allowed to touch a phone when answering or starting a call.
- School bus drivers should not use wireless communication when dropping or picking up passengers.
- The driver can only use a wireless device to communicate with either the school or officers.
Penalties for Breaking the Hands-Free Law in Atlanta, GA
Violators of the hands-free law in Georgia will face the following penalties:
- For the first offense, no more than a $50 fine and a point on one’s license.
- A second offense in less than two years, a fine of $100 and two points on their license.
- For the third and consequent offenses within two years, the fine is $150 and three points on their license. It is important to remember that if you get more than 15 points on your license in less than two years, your license will be suspended.
Call a Car Accident Attorney if You’ve Been Injured by Another Driver Breaking the Hands-Free Law
The new hands-free law is meant to protect you and other drivers from fatal car crashes. At Schneider Hammers, we are experienced in all road matters. We can help you if you have been a victim of an accident with a distracted driver. Our experienced Atlanta, GA team of auto accident attorneys is always on call whenever you need us.