Increased enforcement of hands free law expected next week

Increased enforcement of hands free law expected next week

Local and state law enforcement agencies will be cracking down on distracted driving during a week-long nationwide enforcement effort.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol and local agencies will be involved in the national effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reduce distracted driving, as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month which was moved from April to October due to COVID-19.

"The hands-free law is saving lives on Georgia roads, and we can save even more lives with everyone putting down their phone when they are behind the wheel," Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said in a release. "As more people return to the road, it is important that all drivers are obeying the speed limit, wearing seat belts, driving sober and always driving alert."

According to NHTSA, 2,841 people were killed and around 400,000 injured in distracted driving crashes in the U.S., with five percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide in 2018 reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Around eight percent of drivers between 15 to 19 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

In Georgia, the overall number of traffic deaths have decreased since the state implement a hands-free law in 2018. According to NHTSA, there were 1,504 traffic fatalities in the state in 2018 which was a two percent decrease from 1,540 traffic fatalities in 2016.

As of June, Georgia State Patrol troopers had issued close to 50,000 citations since the law went into effect, with the majority issued for holding an electronic device while driving.

"For those who will not put down their phone when they are driving, this is the only warning we are giving because those pulled over violating the hands-free law should expect to be handed a ticket," Poole said. "Cell phones make our lives easier but no text, social media post or video is worth your life or the lives of others."

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