What's legal and what isn't in the Georgia distracted driving bill? Ga. House Bill 673 would require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The goal is to pry our eyes away from cell phones while we’re behind the wheel – behavior experts say has led to a spike in fatalities on Georgia highways . But “hands free” isn’t as clear cut as it sounds. The bill prohibits anyone from handling a “wireless telecommunication device” whi
Photo: Mandi Albright/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Mandi Albright/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Should Georgia crack down on distracted drivers? Pro and con

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, the debate over a bill that would crack down on distracted driving is setting off one of the most emotional debates at the Gold Dome this year.

It’s a debate that at times seem to pit the fundamental values of life and liberty against each other. With traffic fatalities rising in part because our eyes are glued to our phones instead of the road, should lawmakers make it illegal to hold your cell phone while you’re driving, or would that constitute unnecessary government overreach?

At issue is House Bill 673, which would require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Here’s a look at some of the arguments on both sides of the debate over HB 673.

Pro

*Georgia traffic fatalities, crashes and insurance premiums are up. Distracted driving is a leading cause.

*Research shows handling a phone and other distractions increase the risk of crashes.

*Georgia’s existing texting ban is unenforceable – officers can’t tell if drivers are dialing (which is legal) or texting. A “hands free” law would be easier to enforce.

Con

*Talking on the phone while driving is a productive use of time, and a “hands free” requirement would turn otherwise law-abiding Georgians into criminals.

*There’s a distinct difference between talking and texting, and the existing texting ban can be better enforced.

*A “hands free” requirement would be unnecessary government overreach. Drivers should take personal responsibility for their behavior.

You can read more about the bill and the debate at myajc.com.

If you’d be willing to share your opinion for an upcoming article, contact reporter David Wickert at dwickert@ajc.com.

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