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Gutknecht: Let's break the habit, put the phone down

I will be the first to admit I am not a good driver.

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with multiple police officers in our county. I talked with them about the new hands-free law that goes into effect like right now.

The first officer I met with was Sgt. Charles Cook with the Porterdale Police Department. As I was driving down to Porterdale, which is about a 5-minute drive from my office, I checked my phone twice. I got two texts during that drive and I responded to one of them. Without thinking, I was not only breaking the current texting while driving law, but I would have also been in violation of the new law.

As I was leaving my conversation with Sgt. Cook, I got turned on my car, waited for my phone to connect via Bluetooth to the car and dialed a number. Instead of sending a text this time, I was in compliance with all of the laws and carried on a phone conversation as I headed back to the office.

It was just that easy to make the change.

Not only did a lot more get said during that phone conversation than it ever would have through text, but I was safer behind the wheel because of it.

I’ve made sure to ask every officer I’ve talked to about the craziest thing they’ve seen someone do behind the wheel. It can’t be that bad, right? Wrong. Our officers see it all and it’s shocking.

Later in the week, I was driving with my mom in the car. I had set my phone to play music through my radio before I pulled out of the driveway, but about a mile down the road I wanted to listen to a specific song. Without thinking, I picked up my phone, found the song and pressed play. I was in violation of the law. My mom was sitting right there in the passenger seat and could have easily found the song for me.

Once we are able to get it in our brain, this law should be easy to follow and safer for everyone on the road. Until then, my phone will be in the glovebox.

Jackie Gutknecht is the managing editor of The Covington News. She can be reached at or 770-728-14009. Twitter: @jack­ieg1991