One year after Georgia’s Hands-Free law went into effect, the Georgia Department of Public Safety has a handful of statistics to gauge its implementation.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the office charged with reducing the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia’s roads and providing highway safety data, reported on the one year anniversary that 24,682 citations were issued over the last 365 days.
Additionally, the Georgia Department of Transportation reports a total of 697 traffic deaths reported from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019, which is approximately three percent lower than the 720 reported during the same time period in 2018.
But the information does not paint a complete picture of the effects of the law. Authorities say it will be three to five years before data is comprehensive enough to analyze trends in highway safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report released in the fall of 2020 will also provide more information since it will include a full year of hands-free data.
Three months after the law was enacted, agencies began citing the law for the decline in traffic fatalities, but the most recent information shows a less significant change.
Under Georgia’s hands-free law, drivers are prohibited from holding a phone in their hand or having the phone touch any part of their body while they are driving. Exceptions are made for emergency calls, but the law still applies at stop signs, red lights, and in traffic.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, drivers are fined $50 for the first conviction and 1 point is assessed against the driver’s license. The fine is $100.00 and 2 points for a second conviction and $150.00 and 3 points for three or more conviction. The fines for a 2nd or 3rd offense only apply when date of a 2nd or 3rd conviction takes place within 24 months of the date of the first conviction. “First time offenders can have the charge dropped by showing the court they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on a phone with hands-free technology or devices.”