State lawmakers push for Georgia drivers to go 'hands-free' - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State lawmakers push for Georgia drivers to go 'hands-free'

State lawmakers are looking to ban hand-held phones while behind the wheel. (Source: WALB) State lawmakers are looking to ban hand-held phones while behind the wheel. (Source: WALB)
Debra Storm (Source: WALB) Debra Storm (Source: WALB)
Numbers show an increase in crashes caused by drivers leaving the roadway or lane. (Source: WALB) Numbers show an increase in crashes caused by drivers leaving the roadway or lane. (Source: WALB)
DOCO Driving School (Source: WALB) DOCO Driving School (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

With just two days left of the year, 2016 will be going in the books as a deadly year on the roads in Georgia.

Numbers show distracted driving is a large part of that but a piece of pre-filed legislation could make us a 'hands-free' state. House Bill 7 calls for a ban on holding a cell phone to make a call while driving on Georgia's public roads and highways.

Putting down the phone can be hard for a teenager.

"It's really distracting. Especially if you get like notifications and stuff like that. But like if your phone is dry, it wouldn't be distracting," said driver Faith Washington.

Washington says while she recognizes the dangers of texting while behind the wheel, she does make a phone call from time to time.

"I can text but I know that texting's going to be too much because that's too much typing and stuff like that and you can't look down for a long time so I just call them," she said.

But a proposal to ban handheld devices while behind the wheel would mean a hefty fine for drivers of $150.

DOCO Driving School Owner Debra Storm has mixed feelings about the bill. She says handheld or hands-free, phone conversations can still be distracting for drivers.

"You're not really paying attention to the conversation, or you're not really paying attention to the driving, and both of them suffer," Storm said.

So far in 2016, Georgia has seen more than 1470 deaths on the road and that's up more than 40 from 2015. Storm says this bill wold be a step in the right direction, especially since distracted driving continues to be a problem on the roads.

"Distracted driving is the number one cause of crashes and fatalities on our highways."

While G-DOT doesn't track the number of crashes caused by distracted drivers, officials say the majority of fatal crashes occur due to drivers not staying in their lanes or are driving off the road. In fact, those numbers have jumped from 2015 to this year, an indication that inattentive drivers are a danger to themselves and others.

Storm urges drivers to put the phone away and keep their focus on the road, law or no law.

"Really nothing takes priority over driving and being safe on the road," she said.

Under the proposed measure, there would be exceptions for emergencies and first responders. The General Assembly convenes on January 9.

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