It’s been illegal to handle your phone while driving in Georgia for nearly two months. But the state’s new distracted driving law hasn’t deterred many motorists from fiddling with their phones, a new survey suggests.
According to AAA, 75 percent of its Georgia members surveyed earlier this month reported seeing other drivers holding a phone regularly or fairly often. And 60 percent reported seeing other drivers texting.
The AAA Georgia Distracted Driving survey of 1,171 members – conducted Aug. 6-14 – is one early indicator that motorists are having a tough time adjusting to the new law.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act took effect July 1. It prohibits motorists from holding or supporting with any part of their body a phone or other electronic device while driving. It allows them to use electronic devices for calls, navigation and other purposes if they use hands-free technology (you can learn more about the details of the law here).
The law is intended to combat distracted driving, which experts say is a major contributor to rising traffic fatalities in Georgia and across the country.
The AAA survey has one bit of good news for safety advocates: It found nearly all (98 percent) of members surveyed were aware of the new hands-free law. But AAA warns that even hands-free phone use is dangerous while driving.
““While hands-free applications allow a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, this may unintentionally provide motorists a false sense of security behind the wheel,” said Garrett Townsend, the group’s Georgia public affairs director. “Mental distractions – anything that takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving—are just as dangerous as taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.”