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New "hands-free" law goes into effect July 1

June 20, 2018--6:37 a.m.

HOMETOWN HEADLINES

Next month, things will change for Georgia motorists when a new law aimed at distracted driving goes into effect.

While it’s already against the law to text while driving, starting July 1, you will also no longer be permitted to even hold a cell phone while behind the wheel.

You will still be able to talk on the phone, but only if you use a hands-free Bluetooth device.

State Representative Eddie Lumsden, who was a co-sponsor of the bill, said statistics from the National Insurance Institute showed a 34% increase in traffic fatalities in Georgia over a two-year period.

Distracted driving, specifically the use of cell phones, is a major factor.

Georgia is not the first state to implement so-called “hands-free” laws.

“There have been about 15 states that have already implemented these laws,” Lumsden said. “Over a two-year period, they have seen some pretty significant reductions in the number of fatalities to the tune of 18 to 20 percent. If you apply that reduction and apply that to what we have here in Georgia for the past year, we’re talking about saving 300 lives a year.”

Lumsden said that the law hasn’t even gone into effect yet, but there are indications it may already be saving lives.

“Because of all of the attention this issue has been receiving, I believe, and all of the conversations being had over the dinner table or wherever, we’ve already seen we’ve already seen a 15 percent year-to-date reduction in fatalities.”

Lumsden was a guest on Tuesday’s Hometown Headlines Radio Edition.