Hands-Free and other new laws are now in ef­fect

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - By Jon Suggs

The leg­isla­tive ses­sion is over and done, and all that’s left to do is obey the new laws, most of which took ef­fect July 1.

While many of this year’s new laws will have lit­tle or mi­nor im­pact on Ge­or­gians’ day-to-day lives, there is one big act that could have a dras­tic ef­fect on high­way safety.

Hands-free Ge­or­gia Act

As of July 1, it was il­le­gal to hold a phone while driv­ing.

The Gover­nor’s Of­fice of High­way Safety’s web­site has full de­tails and an­swers to fre­quently asked ques­tions about the new law, but the gist is:

Don’t hold your phone while driv­ing

For pur­poses of the law, driv­ing is de­fined as any time the ve­hi­cle is not law­fully parked. So, no check­ing Face­book while stopped at a red light or watch­ing cat videos while stuck in traf­fic.

More specif­i­cally, if you are us­ing the phone:

As a phone, use voice com­mands to ini­ti­ate and end

For tex­ting, use voice-to-text and textto-voice fea­tures to com­pose and lis­ten to text mes­sages.

To lis­ten to mu­sic, set the mu­sic (or mu­sic ser­vice) to run be­fore start­ing your ve­hi­cle, then leave it in a mount, con­sole, or other stor­age area while run­ning.

Ul­ti­mately, the aim of the Hands-Free Ge­or­gia Act is right there in the name: Your phone should not be in your hands when you’re driv­ing. Never? There is a gen­eral ex­cep­tion to the Hand­sFree Ge­or­gia Act for us­ing your phone “while re­port­ing a traf­fic ac­ci­dent, med­i­cal emer­gency, fire, an

Since July 1, any­one driv­ing a ve­hi­cle in Ge­or­gia must use speak­er­phones, ear­pieces, wire­less head­sets or smart watches to use a cell phone while be­hind the wheel and with the mo­tor run­ning. (Mes­sen­ger photo/Mike O’Neal)

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