Employees

This law’s for you: A Hands Free heads up

By now you’ve undoubtedly read about Georgia’s new Hands Free law that goes into effect July 1. If you read about it on your computer — awesome. If you read about it on your smartphone while waiting at a red light — well, you might say this law’s for you.

Known as the “Hands Free Law,” House Bill 673 makes it illegal to do a lot of things many of us know we shouldn’t do, but do anyway. And when you look at the numbers, that’s a good thing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,170 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers — and that was in 2014. With smartphones becoming even more central to our day-to-day — and sometimes our moment-to-moment — existence, you can only imagine what those numbers look like today.

Think using a smartphone isn’t distracting? Watch a couple of these videos.

Here’s a brief 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

So just what can you do?

  • Listen to streaming music as long as it’s activated before getting on the road
  • Listen to music stored on your phone, provided you aren’t holding or supporting the phone in any way
  • Use 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.

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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.