The Hands-Free Georgia Act is a law regulating the use of cellphones on the road. Generally speaking, it makes it illegal to hold your phone while driving. Its purpose is to crack down on distracted driving and to try to create safer conditions on Georgia roads.
What Can’t You Do
The actual restrictions of the hands-free law are a little complex. You can take calls on the phone, but you have to do it without holding the phone itself. You also aren’t allowed to watch videos on your phone or put in headphones to listen to anything on audio. While in motion, it is also prohibited to program addresses into your GPS.
Essentially, the law forbids holding the phone at any point while you’re driving, but you also need to know how they define “holding the phone” and “driving.” You can touch the phone occasionally if you have it on a mount or you’re storing it in a cupholder, but you can’t pick it up or hold it between your head and shoulder, on your lap, or in a fold of your clothes.
This law applies unless you are legally parked. That means that even if you’re at a stop sign or a red light, you can’t pick up your phone to pick a new song to play or double-check the directions. Unless there’s a valid emergency, you simply have to wait until you’re parked.
What It Means for You
This Georgia law was written to help law enforcement encourage more responsible driving. This law is intentionally broad, partially in order to help police enforce it. Any use of your phone is going to be distracting, and a police officer can’t tell what you’re doing when they see you going past them on the road. The officer can only see that you’re holding your phone and engaging with it in some way. Even if the state wanted to make it illegal to use hands-free phone calls while driving, there’s no way to enforce that law without encompassing other activities we do on our phones.
Now you have no choice but to pull over or wait until you get to your final destination to answer a text or pick a new artist to listen to. You could also learn to use voice-to-text or get a headset for answering calls in the car if you desperately need to. Many vehicles manufactured in recent years come standard with Bluetooth, which can allow you to take phone calls and change the song without interacting with your phone.
Tips for Driving Safely
Any kind of distraction while driving is going to make an accident more likely. Conditions on the road change constantly, so you put yourself and others in danger every time you take your eyes or your mind off of the road and the cars around you. The more alert and focused you are, the better prepared you’ll be to respond defensively and avoid an accident.
Keeping your attention on the road is only one part of holistically safe driving. Another important thing to keep in mind is your energy level. Get enough sleep and eat well before you go driving. If you start to feel tired or drowsy on the road, find a place to pull over and rest or get a snack unless you can pass the driving off to someone else.
Driving can begin to seem like a boring routine because we do it so often, but it carries a lot of risks and dangers. As a driver, you have a responsibility to do your best to drive safe for your family and others around you.