Smyrna delays vote on strict hands-free phone call law - CBS46 News

Smyrna delays vote on strict hands-free phone call law

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Even something like this would be illegal under the new law (WGCL) Even something like this would be illegal under the new law (WGCL)

UPDATE: The Smyrna city council has postponed their vote on a new hands-free driving rule to January 2.

After inviting the surviving relatives of distracted driving victims to their Monday night meeting, the council decided they wanted more time to discuss the issue before voting on it.

The mayor brought up that only five of the seven council members were in attendance, and he wanted all seven to be there for the vote.

Smyrna resident Kyle Kirkman expressed his frustration.

"Tonight, they were using the excuse they only had five people. They could have voted if they really wanted to have done it tonight. So that's my frustration. It's the government kicking the can down the road again."

Everyone who spoke during the public comment session was in favor of the proposed law, but the mayor asked questions that betrayed his lack of confidence. He asked some of the hands-free driving advocates if they knew why the state never passed a law like the one Smyrna is contemplating. Some in attendance suggested the state legislature has been "too chicken" to make substantial changes like these.

If the law ever does pass, Smyrna will officially be the most strict city in the entire state of Georgia when it comes to ticketing for distracted driving.

Secretly recording drivers in Smyrna traffic, it didn't take our cameras long to see dozens of people who would have been ticketed if this law took effect Friday. The new rule would make it illegal to talk with the phone up to your ear, or to hold a phone in your hand for any reason, even while stopped at a light.

Mayor pro tem Derek Norton explains there is one exception: "There's a one touch, one swipe rule. That's a fix we put in the ordinance as recent as last night."

He said you can press one button to answer a call, but the rest has to be hands free somehow. Affixing the phone to a dashboard or windshield are both ways to make a call without getting a ticket.

Smyrna police say they need this extra law because the current rules against texting and driving in Georgia are unenforceable. Right now, if they pull someone over for texting, that driver can say they were just dialing to make a phone call and it's hard to prove otherwise.

There are about 14 states that have similar hands-free laws. Georgia lawmakers have attempted to pass a similar law for the state in the past, and some have expressed interest in trying again next year.

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