Hands-Free Driving Bill awaiting final approval

Shiann Sivell satff

The Hands-Free Georgia Act, House Bill 673, is awaiting final approval from Governor Nathan Deal, who has until early May to sign or veto the legislation.

The Georgia General Assembly gave final passage to the bill on March 29.

Should House Bill 673 pass, Georgia will create a hands-free driving law that would prohibit drivers from holding or supporting a wireless telecommunication device or a stand-alone electronic device while operating a vehicle by July 1.

Additionally, this measure would maintain the ban on texting, emailing and internet browsing, as well as watching or recording videos, while driving.

State Representative John Carson (R-Marietta), chairman of the House Study Committee on Distracted Driving, said in a press release that this bill is needed in Georgia due to significant increases in vehicle traffic crashes, fatalities and bodily injury.

“The vast majority of these increases have been in rear-end crashes, single-car crashes and crashes by drivers from 15 to 25-years-old,” Carson said. “State and local law enforcement have stated that these incidents are a clear indication of driver inattention. The 15 states that have passed hands-free driving laws saw a 16 percent decrease in traffic fatalities in the two years after the law was passed. In addition, traffic fatalities were reduced even further in subsequent years.”

Restrictions may apply

Carson also specified several technology provisions of the bill in a press release.

Drivers would not be allowed to physically hold or support any wireless telecommunications device or a stand-alone electronic device, such as an iPad, iPod, Kindle, etc., with any part of the body, while operating a vehicle.

Exceptions would be made for

  • Earpieces
  • Headphone devices
  • Telecommunications devices worn on a wrist like smartwatches
  • Voice-to-text technology that drivers do not have to handle manually
  • GPS apps

Drivers would not be allowed to record or broadcast a video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.

Exceptions to this would be for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle with dash cams.

Georgia Southern Students Speak

Les McFadden, junior journalism major, said the bill is necessary to the lives of drivers and non-drivers.

“We drive 2,000-pound machines and that doesn’t seem to cross people’s minds when they’re driving,” McFadden said. “I watch people outside my window and nine times out of ten they’re looking at their phones when they’re driving by. It’s pretty alarming.”

Rachel Radford, senior recreational therapy major, see the benefit of the bill in terms of protecting people from texting and driving.

“I’m guilty of texting and driving,” Radford said. “I feel like a lot of people are. But I do feel like it is the leading cause of accidents and should be stopped.”

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Daily Reporter, gadigital@georgiasouthern.edu