Sheriff Griffin cautions Rotarians on use of cell phones while driving

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sheriff Wiley Griffin spoke to the Rotary club this week about the new Hands Free driving law that became effective throughout the state of Georgia on July 1, 2018.

He began by giving statistics such as 1.6 million people, or 60 percent of all drivers have cell phones; 30,000 deaths a year are caused from texting while driving.  One out of four drivers involved in accidents have been texting. Six times more people are involved in auto accidents from texting than from drunk drivers. “You are more likely to be hit by a texting, distracted driver than by a drunk driver,” he says. All it takes to be distracted is to take your eyes off the road for three seconds. Eleven teens die in the United States each day from accidents caused by texting drivers. 82 percent of teens have cell phones and admit to texting while driving. 48 percent say they have been in a car when some other driver was texting. “They know the risk, but do it anyway, and when asked why, they often reply they have seen their parents do it.”

Griffin continued by explaining how drivers are not to hold cell phones or support them with their bodies in any way. The prohibition also pertains to laptops, or any wireless device. Drivers are prohibited from writing, reading or sending any messages. The few exemptions are for those with CB radios, prescribed medical devices or those in emergency services and situations. The law says to pull off the road and be lawfully parked before using the device.

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Asked about using a phone for navigational purposes, Griffin replied, “You can touch the phone to start or stop the navigation, so long as the phone is securely mounted on the dashboard.” Asked about using a cell phone while in a parking lot or in the personal driveway, Griffin said it was okay to sit in a parking lot and cautioned everyone that if they pulled to the side of the road, to exercise caution, as that can be a dangerous place to be, as evidenced by the move over law.

Griffin said the first time a driver is stopped for using a phone while driving there is a fine of $50 and you get one point on your license. It increases to $100 with 2 points and $150 with three points with each succeeding incident.