ATLANTA - Drivers in Georgia are aware of our new hands-free law but apparently are not following the rules.
According to AAA, 98 percent of drivers surveyed said they know about the law. But 75-percent said even after the law kicked in July 1, they have spotted other drivers holding their phones behind the wheel.
About 60 percent said they have seen other drivers texting.
Under the "Hands-Free Georgia Act," drivers may not hold a phone with their hands or use any part of their body to support the device. They also may not use headphones, although they will be allowed to talk on the phone using a speaker, earpiece, and hands-free Bluetooth connections.
Georgia joins 16 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning hand-held cellphone use while driving, an action prompted here, in part, by a dubious record: The state has had the highest increase in auto insurance rates since 2011.
States that have adopted hands-free driving policies have seen a decline in motor vehicle accidents by an average of 16 percent over a two-year period, the U.S. Department of Transportation says on its website. Approximately 660,000 drivers use their phones while driving during daylight hours, the department said.
In Georgia, a first conviction for using a mobile phone while driving carries a fine of $50 and one point on the driver's license. The second conviction would cost $100 and add two points to the license. The third and subsequent convictions would have a fine of $150 and add three points to the license.
Exceptions include reporting a crash or emergency. Utility workers and first responders are also exempt from the law.
Law enforcement officers have the option to issue warnings as a way to educate drivers on the law. This will be up to the discretion of the officer and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.