Six days after the new hands-free law banned use of handheld phones and electronics while driving, area law enforcement agencies have issued few tickets and warnings to drivers breaking the law.
“We are trying to let them merge into this and get used to breaking bad habits,” said Bulloch County sheriff’s Capt. Todd Hutchens.
Deputies have only given verbal warnings, but soon, the Sheriff’s Office plans to hold another “distracted driving” exercise in which any driver using a phone, texting or otherwise displaying distracted driving can be ticketed, he said.
We have written 10 citations and seven warnings for (drivers using) cellphones.Ginger Robbins, GSP Post 45 spokesperson
The law mandates a $50 fine and a point off one’s driver’s license for the first offense. A second offense doubles the consequences, and a third offense triples it for a $150 fine and three points.
Statesboro police are allowing drivers time to become accustomed to the law as well. Records show that since July 1, officers have issued only four warnings and three citations for distracted driving.
Georgia State Patrol reported statewide Monday that 100 citations had been given for using a cellphone while driving. Locally, Georgia State Patrol Post 45, which covers Bulloch, Evans and Candler counties, reported a low number, like other area agencies.
“We have written 10 citations and seven warnings for (drivers using) cellphones,” said Ginger Robbins, GSP Post 45 spokesperson.
As drivers get used to the hands-free law, local retailers are selling out of the different kinds of devices that allow cellphone use without a driver using their hands.
A Statesboro Walmart Supercenter electronics employee suggested consumers “come in quickly,” because the devices are selling fast. Thursday, the store reportedly only had “a few left.”
Ken Dekle, employee at the ATT&T store on Northside Drive East, said Thursday the store had sold out of the devices, but of course more would be ordered.
Statesboro Verizon representative Samantha Call said her store saw a marked increase in sales and had temporarily sold out of the hands-free devices as well.
The devices vary. Some are headsets, while others use an earpiece in one ear. Ear buds are also legal. Cellphone holders are also available to mount on your vehicle’s dash.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.