Georgia’s New Distracted Driving Law: What’s legal, What’s not?

House Bill 673 will become effective July 1, 2018, prohibiting activities which distract a driver while operating a motor vehicle and requires drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. But “hands free” isn’t as clear as it sounds. Click here to read House Bill 673. In the meantime, here’s a look at what would and would not be allowed. The law takes effect July 1.

Prohibited 

*Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device (for example, an iPod).

*Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data while holding your device.

*Watching a video or movie other than watching data related to the navigation of your vehicle (i.e., your mapping app or GPS screen).

*Recording a video.

Allowed 

*Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology.

*Using a GPS system or mapping app.

*Wearing and using a smart watch.

*Using an earpiece to talk on the phone.

*Using radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” systems.

*There are circumstances where you can handle an electronic device while driving: Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, a crime or delinquent act or a hazardous road condition. You can also use your hands if you’re lawfully parked (not at a stoplight – “lawfully” means off or beside the road in an area open to parking).

*Some people are exempt from the hands-free requirement if they’re performing official duties: police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, other first responders and utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency.

(Information taken from Georgia Utility Contractors Association, Inc. and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)