State police wrote 25,000 distracted driving tickets in law's first year

State police wrote nearly 25,000 distracted-driving citations in the first year of the Hands-Free Georgia Act, a new report shows.

Georgia's newest distracted driving law – which prohibits motorists from handling their phones while driving – celebrated its first birthday Monday. So on Monday the Georgia State Patrol provided The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a report showing the number of distracted-driving tickets it wrote from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

The final total: 24,862.

That’s an average of 68 tickets a day over the full year. But state police cut motorists some slack until Oct. 1, when they stepped up enforcement. They wrote nearly twice as many tickets in the first half of 2019 (16,473) as they did in the last half of 2018 (8,389).

By comparison, state police wrote 3,827 citations for distracted-driving-related offenses in the first half of 2018 - before the new law took effect.

The tally does not include tickets written by local police, who wrote thousands more. Atlanta police, for example wrote more than 17,000 citations.

As the AJC reported Sunday, traffic fatalities and collision insurance claims have fallen since the new law took effect. Traffic safety experts say that’s evidence the law is working.

But plenty of Georgia motorists are still holding their phones behind the wheel. Experts say it will take a combination of enforcement and education to change driver behavior.

You can our full report on the distracted driving law here.

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