Georgia's war on distracted driving
|Photo by Robert J Nebel - this photo was taken while on foot so I didn't break any future laws.|
There’s been quite a brouhaha over Governor Deal’s signing of House Bill 673. In case you missed it, House 673 is the new distracted driving bill. This piece of legislation is designed to stop Peach State drivers from operating their vehicles while using electronic devices that are not hands-free. So, if you’re driving and talking or texting on your mobile phone while holding it to your ear, you’re in violation of the law. The law takes effect on July 1.
What’s also prohibited in House Bill 673 is the driver watching a video or movie on his or her mobile phone while driving. Obviously, passengers are exempt from this video-watching measure, but is the legislation going far enough with drivers when it comes to other activities? What about eating a meatball parmesan sandwich while driving? How about reading the newspaper while driving? Then there is the proverbial driver who enjoys applying make-up while driving.
So, what is permitted while driving? One may use GPS on his or her phone but the navigation set-up must be done prior to the trip. Drivers are OK to talk using hands-free devices such as the speakerphone or while using an earpiece.
CB radios or their two-way hybrids are also permitted. Now that was when talking while driving was fun. One had no idea who they were going to speak with on those citizen band radios. It’s kind of like HAM radios. Good old-fashioned reliable technology that allows users to honestly work their devices to meet new folks all over the nation and the world.
You may also use your smartwatch while driving as well as operating a device to report emergencies.
This bill happened in response to many folks being hurt or killed by a distracted driver including a Henry County physician who was killed on his bike. Recently, a distracted driver killed a prison inmate while working on road duty.
While other drivers are at risk from fellow drivers who are distracted, pedestrians and cyclists are obviously at far greater risk. Coupled distracted drivers along with angry motorists and those on foot or two wheels are at even greater risk. Yes, there are plenty of times that pedestrians and cyclists do not follow the law, but they are typically in a minority. Let’s fact the fact that it’s tough to run, walk or cycle throughout metropolitan Atlanta.
Our multi-tasking crazy lives is what’s led us to the creation of House Bill 673. While some may think that it’s big government getting into our cars, it’s still much-needed. Others will question how tough it will be to enforce. Indeed, that will be a challenge, but if the legislation can save lives, it’s well worth being up to that challenge. This problem is beyond real.