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Bill Would Allow Georgia Motorists to Hold Cell Phones at Stop Lights

Under Georgia’s current laws, drivers are prohibited from holding a cell phone while driving a car. If a recently introduced bill becomes law, that could soon change.

Senate bill 356 was recently introduced in the Georgia Senate, and would allow drivers to use their hands to hold a cell phone while the car is not in motion or when the car is at a stoplight. The bill has been introduced as a way to provide an easy solution to a common dilemma facing many Georgia drivers. According to those introducing the bill, motorists often complain that they find themselves waiting at stoplights behind drivers who are looking down at their cell phones in their hands and, therefore, not aware of the change in lights. According to the bill writers, allowing motorists to use cell phones while at stop lights would encourage them to hold their cellphone up, which would also allow them to notice the change in lights, thereby preventing them from blocking motorists behind them.

The bill is already getting a lot of pushback from interested parties. At a recent hearing, lawmakers heard from physician groups, associations of police officers and other traffic safety advocates.  They said that allowing motorists to use their hands to hold a  cell phone while at the wheel simply increases the range of distractions and is completely unnecessary.  Opponents of the bill say that allowing cell phone use of any type when a motorist is driving, regardless of whether he is at a stoplight or not, is a bad idea that immediately puts motorists in a distracted frame of mind.

According to supporters of the bill, the focus should be on enforcing laws that ban motorists from using a cellphone while the car is in motion. According to them, holding a cell phone while the car is not moving, like at a stop light, is not dangerous behavior, and does not endanger motorists in any way.

Although the rationale behind the introduction of this new bill is aimed to improve traffic flow, the mild inconvenience to drivers who find themselves stopped behind a driver using a cellphone at a stop light is not enough to warrant the relaxation of the Georgia’s Hand Free Law which has worked to drastically reduce distracted driving accidents since its passage.  Instead, better enforcement of the existing laws would be more effect in preventing and penalize violations, and not modification of the laws to make them even more lenient.

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