After weeks of testimony from concerned residents and grieving parents, Smyrna is now the first city in Georgia with a hands-free driving law.
The ordinance, which passed Tuesday, means drivers can’t have phones in their hands while driving within the city limits. Drivers are only allowed one touch, for things like answering a call or starting GPS instructions.
Among those who spoke were the parents of Emily Clark, one of the five Georgia Southern University nursing students who died in a seven-car crash in April 2015. Clark, from Powder Springs, was 20 years old.
“Nobody wants to get that call … that your child is not going to be there,” the mother Kathy Clark said through tears, “but this is something good.”
Mayor Max Bacon broke the tied vote Tuesday after one of the seven council members, Ron Fennel, recused himself, citing a conflict of interest because of his involvement with a related nonprofit group.
Norton said the law changed in a couple ways after talks with residents and others.
For instance, the ordinance at first didn’t even allow for one touch, but that changed after a talk with Uber because residents were concerned about the ride-sharing service feeling unwelcome in the city.
When the law starts, Norton said, police will give drivers a 45-day grace period. And the law is only good for two years, after which, he said, they’ll assess the data to see if it is helping.
And instead of the law immediately starting, it won’t come into effect until April 2, which Norton said should give enough time to see if the state will be able to pass similar legislation.
Ben Brasch is the reporter tasked with keeping Fulton County government accountable. The Florida native moved to Atlanta for a job with The AJC. If there's something important to you going on in Fulton, he wants to know about it. Help him better metro Atlanta by dropping a line, anonymously or otherwise.