ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that Gov. Nathan Deal intends to sign the hands-free bill into law.
Deal told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot that he realizes a lot of people might not like the bill, but it’s there for one simple reason: to save lives.
The bill came about after a Marietta lawmaker wanted to see why car insurance rates were so high in Georgia. He found out it's because crashes and fatalities are way up. And when he asked why, he was told it's because of cellphones.
Driver Alvera Lee said she keeps her phone plugged in inside her car. She told Elliot she thinks too many people drive distracted.
“I mean, it’s a good idea. It is. Never touch the phone while driving, so you don’t get into an accident,” Lee said.
Gov. Deal told Elliot that he’s worried about distracted driving too, so he intends to sign the new hands-free bill.
- State lawmakers pushing new ‘hands-free driving' bill
- Put your phone down: Georgia could soon be a hands-free state
- Another Cobb County city looks to ban hand-held cellphone use while driving
- City votes to ban cellphones while driving
- Lawmaker pre-files bill banning drivers from talking on cell phones without hands-free device
It would make it illegal for people to have their cellphones in their hands while driving. Drivers would have to use Bluetooth, a hands-free setup or some other device.
“I think it’s obviously intended to have a very positive effect -- to keep unnecessary crashes and unnecessary deaths from occurring because of distracted driving,” Deal said.
“What is going on is a complete lack of attention being paid to driving by Georgia drivers.” Marietta lawmaker John Carson said.
Carson wrote the Hands-Free Georgia bill after he looked into why car insurance rates were spiraling upward.
He said he found out rates were going up because the number of crashes and fatalities were going up too, all because of distracted driving.
That’s when, he said, it wasn’t about insurance any more, it was about saving lives.
“When you’re doing that, you’re not just putting your life in danger, you’re putting your fellow drivers and other Georgians at risk on our roads,” Carson told Elliot.
Once the governor signs the bill, which sources say will happen as early as next week, the bill would go into effect July 1.
There will be a 90-day grace period for drivers.
The first offense for drivers is a $50 ticket and one point on their driving record.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.