The Atlanta Police Department is one agency that has provided some enforcement numbers. It reported 86 citations written during the first four days under the new law.
The penalty for a driver’s first violation is $50 and one point on their license. The second citation is $100 and two points, and so on.
AJC reporter David Wickert talks to readers about Georgia's new distracted driving law. He tells readers what they are allowed to do and what's prohibited under the law.
The penalties are meant less as revenue drivers and more as deterrents, officials have said. Motor vehicle deaths in Georgia jumped by about one-third between 2014 and 2016, and authorities have largely attributed that spike to distracted driving.
Sgt. Brandon Brown works out of State Patrol Post 51 in Gwinnett County. He recently gave a warning to a woman after watching her send an email while driving right next to him. But, generally speaking, he said he’s seen fewer folks fiddling with their phones over the last week-plus.
How much habits are truly changing wont be known for a couple of months, “when the ‘new’ wears off,” Brown said.
Banning the handling of cellphones isn’t a cure-all, and Hydrick is quick to point out that talking on the phone is still dangerous while driving, even if done via speakerphone or Bluetooth.
But it’s a start.
“I think they’ve all heard about” the law, Hydrick said. “But it’s habit. You’re driving down the road and that beep goes off, whether it’s a ring or a notification or a message, it’s just instinct to pick it up. Especially if you’re waiting to hear from somebody.”
The new law is about breaking drivers of that habit, he said.
“There’s not a phone call or a text message that’s more important than your life or the life of anybody else.”
PROHIBITED BEHIND THE WHEEL:
- Holding or supporting a wireless device with your hand or body
- Recording video
- Watching a video or movie
- Writing, sending or reading text messages while holding your device
ALLOWED BEHIND THE WHEEL:
- Speaking or texting with hands-free technology
- Wearing and using a smart watch
- Using an earpiece to talk on the phone
- Using in-vehicle systems for all purposes
- Using a GPS system or mapping app