STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill Wednesday that cracks down on distracted driving and limits how drivers can use their phones while driving.
The governor signed the bill in Statesboro. The families surrounding him each had reason to applaud his signing of the Hands Free Georgia bill. They lost daughters in a 2015 crash that killed five Georgia Southern nursing students on their way to Savannah. Distracting driving was one of the causes of the crash. Emily Clark's parents held back tears of sorrow and pride.
"We worked with everyone to get this through. Being here today for it means everything," the victim's mother, Kathy Clark, said.
The law prohibits holding your phone to text, write, or read messages while driving, and more.
"Hopefully, it will prevent the same kind of pain being suffered, by other families," Governor Deal said.
Those who drafted the legislation say distracted driving is now as destructive as drinking and driving. Parents are relieved to see the legislation finally official.
"If enough people get stopped or have a close call, maybe it will wake them up," said Ricky Baggett, the father of another victim.
Governor Deal acknowledged that the bill will not bring back the five students lost from Georgia Southern, but their legacy will include saving other lives in the future.
"It gives you a sense of direction. Unfortunately, four other families have that same direction. We all wear those same T-Shirts. It gives you a sense of comfort," said Jimmy DeLoach, the father of another victim.
It's a comfort that will bind them for years to come.
The law will go into effect July 1 and there will be some grace period where you could receive a warning, but drivers need to start adjusting their driving habits sooner rather than later.