Employees

‘Hands Free’ is now the law. Are you legal?

Georgia’s “Hands Free Law” took effect July 1, basically making it illegal to use your cell phone while driving without hands free assistance.

According to James Lyon, chief of the Augusta University Police Department, the law will save lives by bringing attention to the fact that over 2,000 people die on Georgia roadways each year, an increasing number as a result of distracted driving. He hopes the awareness push will have a positive effect.

“The idea is to ensure that the public understands how distracted driving can be a problem before it becomes a problem for them, either through a traffic citation or a crash,” he said.

Lyon says starting July 1, the Augusta University Police Department will begin enforcing the law just as it does any other law. However, special attention will be given to pedestrian crosswalks where the community is most at risk for a distracted driving incident.

Here’s a rundown on what the new law prohibits:

  • Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive calls using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphones or a connection to a vehicle or electronic watch. Those headsets and earpieces can’t be used for music, however — only communication.
  • A driver cannot hold or support a phone with any part of the body.
  • A driver can only use voice-based communication to send or read text messages
  • No reading or sending emails or social media posts, and no internet consumption of any kind
  • No recording of videos

What’s allowed?

  • Listening to streaming music as long as it’s activated before getting on the road
  • Listening to music stored on your phone, provided you aren’t holding or supporting the phone in any way
  • Using GPS navigation if started before you enter traffic

The complete law can be found on the Georgia Highway Safety site.

For the full list of dos and don’ts, including FAQs, testimonials and links, visit Heads Up Georgia.

Unconvinced this is all necessary? Heads Up Georgia helped produce a series of videos emphasizing the dangers of distracted driving, and a video from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration further highlights the effects of texting while driving.

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About the author

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson is managing editor of news & information at Augusta University. Contact him with questions or ideas for Jagwire at erijohnson@augusta.edu.