On July 1, the state of Georgia enforced a new law (HB 673) that forbids drivers from using their devices while operating a vehicle. Although 47 states have implemented laws banning texting and driving, Georgia is taking it a step further by prohibiting all types phone usage, not just sending texts.
Banning phone usage while driving isn’t just important, it’s a matter of life or death. At least 9 people are killed each day because of distracted drivers and in 2015, 42% of teens admitted to texting while driving, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Georgia native Ian Bogost recently published a piece on The Atlantic reflecting on HB 673, also known as the “Hands-Free Law.” He admits to personal experiences with using a phone while driving, writing, “looking up from the phone to see that a green light had gone unnoticed, I might have found myself accelerating hastily before really checking the road or the crosswalk ahead.” “Until coerced by the hypothetical legal consequence of the Hands-Free Law, I hadn’t stopped my traffic-signal phone-checks, even though I knew I was contributing to the rise in distracted driving,” he says.
Violators of the law will receive a $50 fine and a point will be added to their license for the first offense. After that, fines increase to $150 and even more points are assigned.
Bogost underscores how the law is forcing people to truly face unhealthy phone habits. “No longer do people have to rely on their own willpower to stave off smartphone use,” he writes. “In my case, just the hypothetical threat of being ticketed for touching my smartphone appears to be enough to get me to stop using it, cold turkey, at least in the car.”
The author’s personal convictions help demonstrate how the “Hands-Free Law” points towards a future where drivers resist the temptation of using their devices while driving, making the road a safer place for all. “Since the law went into effect, my iPhone has stayed in my pocket when I’m behind the wheel,” Bogost writes.