According to AAA, 75 percent of its Georgia members surveyed earlier this month reported seeing other drivers holding a phone regularly or fairly often. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Survey: Many still text and drive, despite Georgia’s new law

It’s been illegal to handle your phone while driving in Georgia for nearly two months. But the state’s new distracted driving law hasn’t deterred many motorists from fiddling with their phones, a new survey suggests.

According to AAA, 75 percent of its Georgia members surveyed earlier this month reported seeing other drivers holding a phone regularly or fairly often. And 60 percent reported seeing other drivers texting. 

The AAA Georgia Distracted Driving survey of 1,171 members – conducted Aug. 6-14 – is one early indicator that motorists are having a tough time adjusting to the new law. 

The Hands-Free Georgia Act took effect July 1. It prohibits motorists from holding or supporting with any part of their body a phone or other electronic device while driving. It allows them to use electronic devices for calls, navigation and other purposes if they use hands-free technology (you can learn more about the details of the law here). 

The law is intended to combat distracted driving, which experts say is a major contributor to rising traffic fatalities in Georgia and across the country. 

The AAA survey has one bit of good news for safety advocates: It found nearly all (98 percent) of members surveyed were aware of the new hands-free law. But AAA warns that even hands-free phone use is dangerous while driving. 

““While hands-free applications allow a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, this may unintentionally provide motorists a false sense of security behind the wheel,” said Garrett Townsend, the group’s Georgia public affairs director. “Mental distractions – anything that takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving—are just as dangerous as taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.”

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