This July 4, State Troopers urge motorists to put safety first

News

Just over one year since the passage of the Hands Free Georgia Law, the State Troopers and Officers have issued a statement asking drivers to put safety first, especially during July 4 celebrations.

The Georgia State Patrol and Motor Carrier Compliance Division encourage everyone to celebrate the Independence Day holiday responsibly.  This year, the holiday travel period is 102 hours long.  It will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, and end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. This year marks the one year anniversary of the Georgia Hands-Free Law which became effective July 1, 2018.

Georgia State Patrol, Motor Carrier Compliance Division

The GSP noted that last year, troopers “investigated 150 traffic crashes that resulted in 90 injuries, and two fatalities,” and “issued 6,367 citations, (957 seat belts and 150 child restraints), 8,465 warnings, and made 123 DUI arrests.”

From the Georgia Department of Driver Services, News 3 has learned that the Hands Free law did have an effect on citation numbers.

In 2017, before the law took effect, distracted driving convictions that were reported to the DDS numbered at 11,354.

In 2018, with the law taking effect July 1, that number increased to 19,779, with the majority coming in November of that year.

Now in 2019, there have already been 26,718 distracted driving convictions from January to June.

Additionally, data shows that without the Hands Free law in 2017, there were 1,540 roadway fatalities across the state of Georgia. In 2018, with the law in effect for only half the year, that number dropped to 1,514.

The increase in convictions and citations for distracted driving has the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety issuing a warning that State troopers will be on high alert during the July 4 holiday.

“With a record number of travelers hitting the roadways this holiday, we want everyone to pack a load of patience for traffic delays and to put safety first by following the posted speed limit, not driving while impaired, making sure all occupants are restrained, and keeping your hands off of your cell phones,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.  

State troopers and officers will be on high visibility patrols during the 102-hour holiday period in an effort to keep the number of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities at a minimum, he added.

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