What’s happening with Georgia HB 113 about distracted driving?

HB 113

HB 113

Georgia passed a broad distracted driving law a few years ago in an effort to reduce distracted driving. The law prohibits drivers from handling their phones (i.e. texting or holding the phone) behind the wheel. The 2018 distracted driving law meant that Georgia joined several other states in their missions to target this issue. But there is a new bill on the horizon that has revealed that this issue is not cut and dry – HB 113. There are different opinions on the matter.

What is HB 113?

A State House of Representative Committee recently backpedaled a proposal that would have affected the fines for distracted driving. The original HB 113 (sponsored by Rep. John Carson) would have made the fines increase. The maximum fine for a first offense would have risen to $100 from $50, and the fine for a second offense would have gone to $200. A third offense would have meant a fine of $300.

However, what actually happened was a little different. The committee okayed a substitute bill, sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell. The fine for distracted driving would be between $25 and $100 according to the judge’s decision, no matter how many previous distracted driving citations the driver had. The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee also added a stipulation that forbids drivers under the age of 18 from using electronics while driving.

What happened with HB 113.

Georgia lawmakers appear to disagree on how to prevent and reduce instances of distracted driving, though safety specialists have said that distracted driving has fueled a rise in traffic deaths.

Rep. John Carson, who sponsored the original version of HB 113, believes that higher fines are needed to dissuade drivers from using electronics behind the wheel. Carson’s proposal of steeper fines for distracted driving was met with approval from police, hospitals, insurance, and traffic safety groups, as well as those who have lost loved ones in distracted driving accidents.

But Powell believes that the fines are too much, which is why he supported the substitute bill. He expressed concern that the proposed fines in HB 113 would be too difficult for some people to pay. He believes that because people follow Georgia’s seatbelt law though the fine is only $15, the distracted driving fines do not need to be so high. (Powell’s version of the bill also gets rid of additional fines that could be added on for the Georgia Trauma Trust Fund.)

HB 113 and teen drivers.

The substitute bill also added a measure that would prevent teen drivers (those under age 18) from using electronics while driving. This was part of Georgia’s anti-texting law until the distracted driving law passed in 2018. (Essentially, this measure would add that restriction back for teen drivers.) Carson is in favor of this measure, but he pointed out in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that this could also prove to be a point of division among lawmakers and could even threaten the bill’s chances.

The revised bill from Powell was approved by a vote of 7-4.

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Source:

https://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/panel-revises-georgia-distracted-driving-bill-reduce-proposed-fines/fmopuyyOh7H3XT6TjMjDgN/

Georgia expected to pass distracted driving bill (updated)

Georgia is expected to pass HB673, which would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.

Georgia is expected to pass a distracted driving bill, which would make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.

Update as of June 27, 2018: The Hands-Free Georgia Act (HB673), which is discussed in this article, will go into effect on July 1st, 2018. This means that drivers will no longer be permitted to hold a cell phone while they are driving in the state of Georgia. 

Georgia is expected to join fifteen other states that have passed laws that ban holding a cell phone while behind the wheel. Currently, Georgia law forbids texting and driving, but both talking on a handheld cell phone and dialing are still legal.

HB673 aims to change that as an effort to reduce distracted driving accidents.

What is HB673?

HB673 basically prohibits drivers from holding a cell phone or another electronic device while they’re driving a car. The goal of the distracted driving bill is to make it easier for law enforcement to uphold driving laws. Since holding a phone to talk or dial is still currently legal, it’s difficult for police officers to prove that the driver in question was actually texting (and thus breaking the law) instead of just dialing or holding the phone.

Of course, the bill is also intended to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities on Georgia’s roads. The bill will raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and hopefully discourage people from taking their attention off the road by looking at a screen.

If the distracted driving bill passes, it will be illegal to talk on the phone and drive.

What’s not legal?

Under the new bill, the following would be ILLEGAL:

  • Holding a cell phone, wireless device, or another electronic (like an iPod)
  • Writing, reading, or sending text (ex. Text messages, email, IM, or internet data)
  • Reaching for a device so that you are no longer in a proper seated driving position with seatbelt restraint
  • Watching a video or movie (other than navigation)
  • Recording a video

The new distracted driving bill would make these actions while driving unlawful. Again, the goal is to reduce the number of car accidents caused by distracted driving. Under the new law, the first-time offense means a fine of $50, but it increases for each offense after that.

What’s still legal?

Certain things will still be legal and permissible. The following would be allowed while driving…

  • Using hands-free technology to talk or text
  • Using a GPS or navigation app
  • Smart watches
  • Earpieces
  • Reporting an accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, or hazardous road condition
  • Radios, CB radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, and in-vehicle security, navigation, or remote navigation
  • Using a handheld phone while parked off the road in an area where parking is permitted (NOTE: This does NOT mean being stopped at a traffic light.)

Distracted driving and insurance premiums

Distracted driving has contributed to an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities. And insurance companies look at statistics to determine car insurance rates. The higher the chance of an accident occurring, the higher the premiums drivers are likely to face. That’s why rates are often higher for people who have gotten speeding tickets or who have been involved in accidents. The decision to commit to being safe driver can help you save money on car insurance, so the distracted driving bill might help lower your premiums.

The goal the distracted driving bill is to reduce the number of traffic accidents in Georgia.

That’s the scoop on the distracted driving bill (HB673) that is expected to pass in Georgia. Hopefully, we will see a decrease in traffic-related injuries and fatalities and the roads will become safer for everyone. Take care and drive safe, Atlanta.

If you’re looking to save money on auto insurance, we would be happy to help you with that. Car insurance might seem pricey, but we can help you shop for the best coverage at the best rate. To get started with your auto insurance quotes, just fill out our online form or give us a call today.

Source:

https://www.myajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-just-passed-distracted-driving-bill-what-legal-what-not/PZXchE0AqAi1H8r7X8XrZN/

http://www.wtvm.com/story/37882063/new-distracted-driving-law-proposed-citations-across-georgia-will-change

https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/highway-safety/hands-free-law/

Why you should think twice before texting and driving

You can easily travel the length of a football field without seeing the road if you're texting and driving.

Texting and driving greatly increases your chance of having a car accident.

We’ve all heard the dire warnings about distracted driving. Maybe part of us knows that texting and driving is wrong and dangerous, but do we ignore our instincts and do it anyways? When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important that your full attention is on the road and not anything else. Texting and driving isn’t something to take lightly, as the consequences are far-reaching and severe. We’ll outline five reasons not to text and drive.

1. The statistics don’t lie.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving (including texting and driving) killed 3,450 nationwide in 2016. Over 390,000 people were injured in car accidents involving distracted driving in 2015. They estimate that at any given moment during the day in 2016, 481,000 people were using electronic devices while driving.  

The CDC adds to these statistics that every day in the US, nine people are killed in car crashes that involve a distracted driver and over 1,000 are injured in distracted driving accidents every day.

The numbers are very sobering. It’s important to remember and keep in mind that you’re not on the road alone. There are innocent drivers and pedestrians all around you, and they could get hurt if a lapse in your attention results in a car accident.

2. Texting and driving is illegal in Georgia.

In Georgia, texting and driving is illegal. It’s also considered a primary law, meaning that a police officer can pull you over for texting without having to see any other offense. If you get caught texting and driving, you’ll have to pay a fine and you’ll get one point against your driver’s license. Points are not good, so it’s best to put the phone away while you’re driving.

For the record, “texting” as defined by the law is writing, reading, or sending text data using an electronic device (and yes, that includes emails.)

3. If you’re texting and driving, you travel farther than you think without looking at the road.

Reading or sending a text takes your attention off the road for about five seconds. Let’s say that you’re driving 45 mph. At that speed, you’ll travel 330 feet in five seconds. That’s over the length of a football field. At 55 mph, you’ll travel 403 feet in five seconds. That’s pretty terrifying to think about if you’re not looking at the road.  

You can easily travel the length of a football field without seeing the road if you're texting and driving.

Imagine if someone asked you to put on a blindfold and drive the length of a football field. You wouldn’t do it, right? There are way too many risks – you could hit another car, strike a pedestrian, veer off the road. If you text and drive, you’re essentially driving blindfolded. Even looking away for two seconds means that you’re not watching the road for 132 feet. That’s about one and a half basketball courts. When you’re driving, reaction time is critical. And you can’t have a decent reaction time if you’re wasting precious seconds looking at your phone. You have to know what’s coming and act as quickly as possible – that’s part of being a defensive driver. Sure you might have collision coverage for your car, but it’s best to not have to use it. 

4. Texting and driving involves multiple forms of distraction.

There are three main types of distraction while you’re driving. There are manual distractions, which take your hands off the steering wheel. There are cognitive distractions, in which your mind is not focused on the road. And then there are visual distractions, which take your eyes away from the road. The thing about texting and driving is that it involves all three types of distraction, which makes it super dangerous. If your hands aren’t on the steering wheel, your mind isn’t focused on the road, and your eyes aren’t looking where you’re going, how are you supposed to operate a vehicle? All three of those things are kind of important when it comes to driving.

5. Car accidents make your car insurance rates go up.

When you’re getting a quote for car insurance, chances are that the agent is going to check your driving record. Car accidents that are on your record can count against you when it comes to your insurance rates because being involved in accidents means that you’re a higher risk to insure. And insurance companies really don’t like risk, so they charge more the higher a risk you are. Car insurance is expensive enough as it is, but it pays to be a safe driver. If you haven’t been in any car accidents or gotten any speeding tickets, you’re seen as being less of a risk, meaning that you could save money on car insurance rates. So, there’s another reason to not text and drive

Texting and driving puts both your safety and the safety of others on the road at risk. Thousands of people die each year because of distracted driving accidents. By simply putting your phone down and not looking at it while you drive, you lower your chances of causing a car accident. Driving and distractions just don’t mix. So, don’t take your chances – put the phone away and wait until you’re safely at your destination to text.

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Sources:

https://www.drivinglaws.org/georgia.php   

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving