Following the start of Georgia’s Hands-Free Law in July, officials say traffic fatalities, crashes and insurance claims are down in the state.

As of September 30, traffic crash fatalities are down 11 percent year to date, which is the largest decrease of Georgia traffic fatalities in 10 years. In addition, reports say there have been 128 fewer fatalities in 2018 over 2017, year to date. 

“I voted in favor of this law, not because I believe the State of Georgia should control our everyday lives, but because people are dying, being injured and automobiles and other private property are being damaged,” State Representative Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) in a press release. “Our insurance rates are skyrocketing well above the regional and national average.”

According to information from Georgia State Patrol (GSP), traffic crashes were down in the months following the implementation of the law. Traffic crashes in July were down 2.5 percent and 8.9 percent in August over the same period in 2017.

Preliminary data from GSP for September showed an even greater decrease.

According to recent data on the Georgia private passenger auto insurance market, insurance claims have decreased for the first time in years. Quarterly insurance claims decreased in both frequency and severity in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2017.

“Collision claim frequency and severity are declining for the first time in years.  Increased awareness of the consequences of distracted driving ahead of recent hands-free legislation is a likely factor,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, Ph.D., CPCU, Clinical Associate Professor of Finance, Risk Management & Insurance at the University of South Carolina.

Though there have been improvements, Jones believes there is still more to be done.

“Opponents of the new law argue that all distracted driving, such as eating, grooming, and other distractions, should be included in this new law. The reality is that the percentage of traffic accidents caused by these other distractions are statistically insignificant compared to the accidents caused by cell phone use,” he said, adding, “Whether we agree with the new law or not, I know we all hope and pray that these positive trends will continue.”