Category Archives: Notices

Governor Deal Signs House Bill 673 Into Law

Governor Nathan Deal made Georgia the 16th state in the nation to enact a law banning drivers from having a cellphone in their hand when he signed House Bill 673 Wednesday afternoon in Statesboro.

When the law takes effect on July 1 of this year, drivers will no longer be allowed to have a phone in their hand or supported by any part of their body.

Georgia's Hands Free Law Begins July 1, 2018

“It’s second nature to pick up our phones when we are behind the wheel but if you have it in your hand when driving after July 1, you run the risk of getting a ticket,” Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway said.  “While we encourage everyone to stay off their phones, we recommend drivers to implement now whatever they will need in order to place and receive calls without having the phone in their hands or on their bodies.”

Authored by Representative John Carson (R-Marietta) and passed during the 2018 Georgia General Assembly Session, drivers will have to have an earpiece, wireless headsets or smartphone watch in order to make and receive calls and to use navigational devices.

Texting, sending and receiving e-mails, posting on social media, and browsing the internet are all prohibited, but drivers can text if they are using technology that converts voice to text messages.

Watching and recording videos are not allowed except for videos that are used for navigational purposes and continuously running dash cams.

It is also illegal for drivers to have a phone in their hand when they are stopped for a traffic signal or stop sign.  It is legal to make a hand-held phone call or send a text, e-mail or social media post when the vehicle is lawfully parked.

Drivers are allowed to have a phone in their hand to make emergency calls to report a traffic crash, criminal activity, fire, medical emergency or hazardous road conditions.

Law enforcement officers, fire and EMS personnel and employees, and contractors of utility companies are exempt under the law providing the call is related to their official duties or while responding to a utility emergency.

While most state and local law enforcement officers will be working to educate all motorists on HB 673 in the first few months, drivers should not expect to automatically receive a warning if they are stopped for violating the Hands-Free law.

After July 1, law enforcement officers can and will issue citations in crashes caused by distracted driving and to drivers they feel should be issued a citation for the violation the officer observed.

“Our law enforcement community is ready to work with all drivers to help them understand and abide by the new “Hands-Free” law,” Blackwood said. “Putting our phones down when we are behind the wheel will make our roads safer for everyone to drive, walk and bike because it means we all be more attentive when we behind the steering wheel.”

7 Out of 10 Deaths on Georgia Roads are Preventable

Of the 1,549 people who died on Georgia’s roads in 2017, upwards of a thousand could be alive today if the involved driver had chosen a different driving behavior – like driving alert, eliminating distractions, paying attention, driving at a safe speed and requiring seat belt use for everyone in the vehicle.

After a decade of steady declines in roadway fatalities in Georgia, the last three years saw a 32 percent increase. While fatalities decreased by about one percent from 2016 to 2017, pedestrian deaths surged a staggering 11 percent.

Other statistics from 2017 demonstrate that drivers are just not paying attention.

  • 44% of non-pedestrian fatalities are from single vehicle crashes
  • 55% of non-pedestrian fatalities are from drivers veering out of their lane

The Northeast Region has reached out to local school systems in Forsyth and Dawson counties to spotlight the importance of Driving Alert. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies have also been established and proved beneficial as District One has seen 9 less fatalities as compared to this time last year.

Georgia DOT has also relaunched the creative components of  Drive Alert Arrive Alive, watch for new bus back ads, a wrapped Drive Alert Arrive Alive vehicle, and a continuation of GDOT’s partnership with the media to spread the safe driving message to their extensive audiences.

GDOT’s See & Be Seen campaign is the pedestrian component of Drive Alert Arrive Alive. See & Be Seen emphasizes that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between motorists and pedestrians. See & Be Seen aims to make it safer to walk in Georgia. Visit www.dot.ga.gov/SBS.

 

Work Zone Safety Is Everybody’s Responsibility…Especially during Construction Season

ATLANTA, GA – The warm spring and summer-like temperatures mark the official beginning of the Georgia DOT’s construction season. During this work zone safety week, the Georgia DOT advises motorists to pay attention, slow down and watch for workers and equipment in active work zones.

Beginning this spring, Georgia DOT anticipates about 400 active projects under construction valued at approximately $3.5 billion. In addition, another 65 projects valued at $180 million could potentially be under contact and begin construction this summer, weather permitting.
“We anticipate another very active construction season this year,” said State Construction Engineer John Hancock.  “We cannot overemphasize the need for motorists to pay attention in work zones and expect the unexpected. Things may change overnight, normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may be working on or near the road. All these variables require drivers to be extremely alert in work zones and on our roadways.”

Road work will be on all major interstates and state routes, including final construction of the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, construction on the I-285/GA 400 interchange and a Diverging Diamond Interchange at I-285 and Camp Creek Parkway in metro Atlanta. Other major projects across the state include 22 miles of resurfacing on I-95 in Camden County, reconstruction of the I-16/I-75 Interchange in Macon and reconstruction of I-75 interchanges in Lowndes County.

During this very active construction season, Georgia DOT advises motorists to:
•    Obey Road Crew Flaggers and Pay Attention to Signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger’s traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
•    Don’t Speed. Obey the posted speed limit, even when workers are not present.
•    Don’t Tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and the construction workers and their equipment.
•    Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions. Give your full attention to the roadway. Avoid changing radio stations, eating behind the wheel or using cell phones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone area.
•    Wear Your Seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash. And make sure your passengers are buckled up too, even in the back seat.
•    Know Before You Go. Expect delays, leave early and schedule enough time to drive safely. For 24/7 real-time traffic information call 511 or visit www.511ga.org (do not do this when driving!). And follow Georgia DOT on Twitter for additional updates.

Watch the video interview with Georgia DOT’s Construction Office about what’s in store this spring and summer construction season. Visit https://youtu.be/IC238QqH6bE.