ATLANTA, Ga. - Beginning July 1, Georgia motorists will have to put down their phones while they’re driving, thanks to the new Hands-Free Georgia Act signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The law prohibits motorists from holding their phones while driving. You can still talk and even text while you’re driving – as long as you’re using hands-free technology.
Tuesday night, News 95.5/AM750 WSB Radio hosted a roundtable discussion with other representatives from the radio station, Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as law enforcement and government officials and other experts.
They answered a full range of questions from “traffic troopers” in the studio audience, other listeners and readers and from social media. If the roundtable made anything clear, it’s that there’s still a lot of confusion about the law, what’s allowed and what isn’t.
The long and short of it: You’re not allowed to hold your phone.
“Get a mount, get used to it, get used to getting that phone out of your hands,” WSB Radio traffic reporter Mark McKay said.
“This is really gonna save lives in Georgia,” state Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, who introduced the bill, said during a call into the roundtable.
“You cannot have your phone in your hand, touching any part of your body at all. That’s that No. 1 thing everyone has to know,” Arum said.
“So, can I just adjust my map like right here at a stop sign?" Stouffer asked Arum.
“No, you cannot. Take your phone, hand it to your passenger and they can do it for you, or pull over on the side of the road and do it that way,” Arum said.
There is also no setting your phone on your lap, says Triple Team Traffic's Doug Turnbull.
“You're not allowed to rest (your phone) on your body or in your pocket. Even if it's for GPS, you have to put it on the holster or rest in on the console,” Turnbull said.
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You can still listen to music on your phone from services like Spotify or Apply Music, but set up a playlist before you start. Or when you are legally parked. Stop lights don't count. Also, no videos.
“It’s completely illegal and some people may say, ‘What if I have it mounted like an Uber driver on the windshield?’ You’re still not allowed to watch or shoot video, or take a picture behind the wheel," Turnbull said.
"Passengers can, drivers cannot," Turnbull said. “Especially in Atlanta, with the traffic here, your head has to be on a swivel all the time. You cannot be distracted at all.”
For phone calls, it's OK to use a dash board Bluetooth or speakers if your phone is in a holder or on the console.
You can also make a call using headphones or earbuds with speakers, as long as one ear is open.
But whatever you decide to do, you need to come up with a new plan soon. The law changes July 1.
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