Nearly 25,000 distracted driving tickets issued in law's first year

Nearly 25,000 distracted driving tickets issued in law's first year

GEORGIA — Georgia's "Hands Free" driving law has hit the year mark, and in that time, state police have issued nearly 25,000 citations to distracted drivers, a new report shows.

That number is for distracted driving tickets Georgia State Patrol troopers wrote from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. That's an average of 68 tickets a day but the total doesn't include tickets written by local policing agencies.

"I think it's had a positive impact," said Allen Poole Powell, the director of Georgia's Office of Highway Safety.

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Poole Powell is confident that rear-end crashes and related injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving have been reduced but he said it will take time for more driving to embrace it fully.

"It was like the seat belt laws 25 years ago. We had to educate people to use the belts," Poole Powell said.

A worker at a local car rental business said about 50% of people who rent vehicles while their car is getting fixed. were rear ended by a distracted driver, usually on a phone.

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Chris Maszerowski supports Georgia's "Hands Free" law, but he doesn't think many drivers are ready to put their phones down yet.

"I probably see more now than I had before," he said.

While there was a rush to buy phone holders after the law took effect, many drivers are still distracted by looking at or touching the phone while it's in the holder.

The first time police catch you holding your phone and driving, the fine is $50 and one point on your license.

That fee goes up $50 and an extra point for each additional citation.