Georgia already prohibits anyone under 18 with a learner’s permit from using wireless devices while driving and prohibits adults from texting while driving. Some say the logical next step would be requiring hands-free phone use for everyone.
Capt. Derick Durden of the Georgia State Patrol said enforcing the texting ban can be difficult because it requires officers to interpret whether a driver is texting or merely dialing their phone, which is permitted under current law. Durden said a hands-free law would eliminate the ambiguity and make it easier to crack down on distracted driving.
“Hands-free is not a cure-all,” added Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “But it makes the law more enforceable.”
Such legislation has gained little traction in previous legislative sessions. And Hartwig said research so far shows the use of hands-free devices helps, but not as much as hoped.
State Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, the study committee’s chairman, was not ready to endorse such a bill. But Carson said “all options are on the table.” And he said distracted driving is a serious problem that will require some change in behavior by Georgia drivers.
The study committee will meet several more times around the state this fall. Its next meeting will be Sept. 25 in Warner Robbins.