Proposed bill would increase penalties for hands-free law

Jan 24, 2020 | Accident Injury

Despite the Hands-Free Georgia Act, you may still see drivers on their phones. Even if you obey the law, these drivers can put you in danger when they drive distractedly. When they stare at their phone screens, they may not notice you sharing the road with them.

To try and curb distracted driving, lawmakers now want to make the penalties harsher. A new bill would add on to the Hands-Free Georgia Act, increasing fines for using a phone while driving. Supporters hope that this will convince more drivers to put down their phones, making the roads safer.

Lawmakers want increased penalties to deter distracted driving

Currently, anyone who gets a ticket for using a phone while driving must pay a $50 fine. Multiple citations can mean higher fines. But some lawmakers say the penalties aren’t enough. Many drivers still use their phone, even though doing so is illegal.

The proposed bill would make a first ticket punishable with a $100 fine. Multiple citations could cost drivers as much as $300.

Statistics show that traffic deaths went down after hands-free law passed

Lawmakers in support of the bill point to statistics showing a slight drop in traffic deaths after the original law passed in 2018. Fatalities on Georgia roads increased between 2014 and 2016. They then dropped by 2.2% in 2018. And early statistics show that 2019 had a 4% drop in traffic deaths.

By pushing the penalties higher, lawmakers hope to reduce these numbers even more.

Drivers who ignore the law may also ignore the road

When people use phones in traffic, they take their eyes and attention away from the road. Not only is this illegal, it increases the likelihood of an accident. If these drivers don’t notice potential dangers, they may not react fast enough to avoid them.

But even though the practice is illegal and dangerous, you may still see drivers who pay more attention to their phones than the highway.