Proposal to make Georgia a ‘hand-held' ban state

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A pre-filed piece of legislation could make Georgia a "hand-held" ban state, meaning no holding your cell phone during a conversation while driving.

There are only four states left in the country that have yet to pass a texting and driving ban. In fact, the last state east of the Mississippi to enact one was South Carolina.

What do drivers think of having to put the cell phones down?

Despite how many drive with cell phones up to their ears, most like the idea of a ban. Just to give you an idea of where the current hand-held bans are, a map found on the website for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute below, shows that Georgia and South Carolina are part of the vast majority without bans in place.

In Georgia, Representative Keisha Waites out of Atlanta, hopes to change that.  The proposal calls for a ban on holding a cell phone to make a call while driving on Georgia's public roads and highways, with only a few exceptions that include emergency calls and first responders.

Breaking the proposed measure would carry a fine of $150, which some say is a small price to pay to potentially save a life.

"I'm for it. It's a safety issue," said Katrina Williams, a driver who agrees with proposed ban.

"It only takes a split second, you know, to kind of make the worst decision of your life. That can be looking down at the cell phone when you're supposed to be focused on what's going on in front of you," said David Rosier, another driver in favor of the hand-held ban.

Some I spoke to Wednesday night have been directly affected by distracted drivers, on their phones, not paying enough attention.

"It has happened to me, car accident," Williams said.

But not every victim lives to share their story.

"My brother, he was killed back in 2014 in February from a man who was arguing with his old lady on her phone, and ended up hitting him going 50 miles per hour," said Josh Hall, whose brother was killed by a distracted driver.

Hall says he realizes the measure might not be popular with everyone.

"Probably a lot of people wouldn't want there to be a law against it because then they can't call and chat it up with their sister or something. But I don't have a brother now because of it, so I think they should," he said.

According to the proposed legislation, hands-free calls would still be allowed.

"Blu-tooth! I think it's the most amazing thing you can get in your car. That's a great application to have. That's where you hit a button and you just talk, keep your eyes on the road, but still talk at the same time," said Stephanie Olubwale, a driver in favor of hands-free calls.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Georgia has a young drivers phone ban for those younger than 18, while South Carolina does not.

We'll keep an eye on this proposed legislation throughout the 2017 legislative session for you.

For more statistics and information on distracted driving, please click here.

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