Hands-free phone law in Georgia

Georgia’s hands-free law in effect July 1st 2018

In our home state of Georgia, the way we use our mobile phones in our cars is about to change. On July 1st, 2018, Georgia residents will join those of 15 other states and Washington, DC, and will no longer be allowed to use hand-held cell phones while driving.

Though texting while driving has been illegal in Georgia for some time, House Bill 673 also prohibits holding or supporting your phone with any part of your body. What does this mean for drivers? Does it mean you can’t talk on your phone? Does it mean you can’t use an app like Google Maps or Waze? What about streaming Podcasts or Audiobooks? Can you still post your stuck traffic selfie on instagram? How can companies benefit from this law (besides having their employees arrive alive)?

Can I talk on the phone while I’m driving?

Though recent studies have advised against it, you can still use your phone for calls. But you must use the phone’s speaker, your car's bluetooth connection, or a hands-free device like a bluetooth headset while your car is in motion.

Sprinter Bluetooth Headset

Bandz Wireless Headset

You can also use the bluetooth headset to use the voice-to-text feature. But beware - no touching your phone to fix typos!

What about GPS? How do I know where I’m going?

While we can't definitively answer the second question, let's try the first. You may remember the days of going to MapQuest and printing out directions to your destination. Or even...and this may date you...using a paper map! (Fun trick for the parents reading this: give your kids an AAA map and have them try to fold it...hours of enjoyment!) But once smartphones became commonplace, those paper printouts were replaced by apps like Waze or Google Maps.

While these apps do speak directions out loud, we’ve all been there...driving along in the left lane when all of a sudden your phone tells you to make a right, RIGHT NOW. So for most people, having a sense of what the next turn will be is important.

According to the law, you can have your phone in the passenger seat or cup holder and look at it. However, that would take your eyes off the road momentarily, defeating the purpose of the law. What many opt to do instead is use a cell phone car mount.

There are several varieties to choose from - the most popular being ones that mount to your dashboard or windshield or ones that attach to your car’s air vent.

Windshield SmartPhone Holder

Auto Phone Mount

I’m in traffic for over an hour each way - can binge-listen to Serial?

This is perhaps one of the most confusing parts of HB 673. According to Heads UP Georgia, streaming apps like Spotify, Audible and Pandora can be used IF the driver starts them while they are parked. However, you *can* use your car's built-in audio controls. So if that Nickelback song comes on mid-drive, you're stuck with it unless you turn off the radio for the next three and a half minutes.

What about social media? I swear I only post selfies while I’m stopped at red lights.

That’s a big fat no. No, no, no.

No quick Facebook updates.

No Instagram humblebrags.

No adding to your Snapchat story.

No replying to an email and no Googling the nearest Starbucks. Also not allowed - Skyping or Facetiming (or any form of videochat), even if it’s done hands free. The law states that a driver cannot record or broadcast a video while driving.

How can I do my part to make sure my fellow drivers are following the law?

Stiff penalties should help deter drivers from breaking the law; up to a $150 fine and up to 3 points on your license. You can also get ahead of the law and help your employees by purchasing branded products that will help them to follow the law – like a branded car phone mount. If you’re in charge of giveaway products for your company, think about choosing a phone mount or promotional bluetooth headset. Associating your brand with safety while saving your customers and employees not only money but their lives...now that’s a win-win.

While these laws have been in effect for years in several states, they are new to Georgia (and presumably more states to come). Depending on your habits, complying with the Hands Free Law may be a piece of cake. Or if you’re guilty of busting out your phone while you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic on 285, you’re going to have to rethink your ways...or pay. It may take some getting used to, but hands-free laws have shown to significantly decrease traffic accidents and fatalities.

And that’s worth sharing...just not while driving.




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