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Hands-Free in PTC

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November 16, 2018

“Distracted driving is an epidemic and one of the biggest leading causes of collisions.” SRO Chris Judy

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Hands-Free in PTC

Picture taken by: Morgan Hurd

Picture taken by: Morgan Hurd

Picture taken by: Morgan Hurd

Picture taken by: Morgan Hurd

Three months ago House Bill 673, the Hands-Free law, was passed in Georgia in hopes of decreasing the number of accidents that occur on the road. The law states: “A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, while the phone is connected to the vehicle or an electronic watch. GPS navigation devices are allowed.” All information concerning the Hands-Free law can be found at headsupgeorgia.com/handsfree-law

Thirty-eight states, now including Georgia, have banned the use of cell phones for regular drivers. In Peachtree City, drivers of golf carts are also included in the law. A driver of a car and a driver of a golf cart are held to the same standard when it comes to the Hands-Free law. It’s clearly a huge issue that had to be addressed, but now that the law is in effect how is it affecting the people of McIntosh? McIntosh Resource Officer, Chris Judy, gave some insight into the deal with the Hands-Free law.

Asked if he thought the law has been effective so far Judy said, “It helps but people to still choose to text and drive.” According to a driving program Officer Judy looked at through GDOT, it reported that despite the law being enforced, 37% of teens and 35% of adults still decide to text and drive. More statistics on the Hands-Free law can be found on Georgia Department of Transportation’s official website at www.dot.ga.gov.

After reading these statistics Officer Judy said, “Distracted driving is an epidemic and one of the biggest leading causes of collisions.”

A few students also gave their input on the Hands-Free law. “Anybody who drove with their cell phone prior to the law being enacted is insane,” said senior Zachary Tredo. “If you didn’t do it in the first place you didn’t have to adjust.”

Tredo, along with several other students, found it ridiculous to use a cell phone while driving, even before the law was enacted.

“I think it’s a good thing and it’ll help save lives,” said senior Sarah Denell. “It doesn’t really affect me because I never used my phone while driving in the first place.” Denell continued, “It’s nice to have something to do while driving like talking to someone it just needs to be done safely.”

Drivers can use their phones safely while driving by using accessories that allow them to make calls or listen to music while driving such as Popsockets or dashboard holders. Such accessories are sold at any supermarket, electronics store, convenient store, and on online marketplaces such as Amazon. Whether it’s for a car, golf cart, or any other motor vehicle, it’s easy to find the accessory that fits any vehicle. As long as a cell phone is not being held, it can legally be used.

Most students can agree that using a phone while driving can be dangerously distracting, but what if there are circumstances where there isn’t enough time to completely pull over to use a phone?

“Using a phone irresponsibly while driving can lead to a multitude of problems, but some people have real reasons to hold and use their phones and were doing so responsibly,” said senior Michael Mrizek.

If something urgent arises the driver might need to make a call while driving. That is why there are certain exceptions to the law are as follows: “Reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions. An employee or contractor of a utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to a utility emergency. A first responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties. When in a lawfully parked vehicle—this DOES NOT include vehicles stopped for traffic signals and stop signs on the public roadway.” So  there are important situations where using a cell phone is allowed. These exceptions to the law can be found at headsupgeorgia.com/handsfree-law.

Since the law has was introduced it has been recorded on www.gahighwaysafety.org that nearly 1000 drivers were cited violating the Hands-Free law within a week or two of it being in effect. Because of the increasing punishment that comes with each violation, it encourages people to stay off their phones while driving. The first conviction is a $50 fine and one point on a driver’s license. The second conviction is a $100 fine and two points on a driver’s license. The third and subsequent convictions is a $150 fine and three points on a driver’s license. After getting 15 points on a driver’s license it is suspended within a period of 24 months. Police will continue to pull people over until they understand that driving while distracted is dangerous and puts other’s lives at risk.

“I feel like the first time it’s reasonable but after the third time it gets quite expensive,” said Justin Marquez after being told about the consequences of breaking the law. “ I just want to change the music on my playlist. I don’t want to pay 150 dollars just to do it.”

While some see the act as simply changing the music on a playlist, other see it as putting others’ lives in danger. The law has an increasing fine to motivate people to stay off their devices therefore making the roads a safer place. Now that the consequences outweigh the benefits, drivers have to learn to cope without being able to use their phones. 

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About the Writer
Nathan Besse, Staff writer

Whether it’s composing essays for English class or writing as a hobby at home, Nathan Besse has always had an interest in writing. Due to his love for...

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