ATLANTA, GA — Georgia motorists have a few more weeks to make sure they will be in compliance with the state’s Hands Free Georgia Act when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. The legislation, which goes into effect on July 1, bans drivers from having a phone or electronic device in their hands or touching any part of their body while operating a vehicle on the road.
You will be able to make and receive calls through a speakerphone, earpiece or wireless headset as long as you do not have your phone in your hands or resting on your body. Motorists can also make calls if their phones are connected to an electronic device or their vehicle’s stereo. GPS and other navigational devices are allowed, but you cannot have a phone in your hands or propped up by any body parts.
“It’s become a habit we don’t think twice about since we have been talking on our phones while driving for more than three decades and it is going to take time for all of us to stop automatically reaching for the phone when it rings,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Communication Director Robert Hydrick said. “If you want to talk on your phone or use GPS while driving, now is the time to implement those measures so hands-free will become the instinctive thing to do.”
While it is not required to purchase a device or holder for your phone, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety encourages drivers who want to talk on their phone to place it where they can easily access it so that it doesn’t interfere with their ability to operate their vehicle and will still reasonably keep their attention on the road.
“According to recent data, we believe the public awareness of this new law is already saving lives,” said State Rep. John Carson of Marietta, who sponsored the bill creating the new law. “We encourage all Georgians to implement the best practices stated in the Hands-Free Georgia Act prior to July 1, 2018, for the safety of all commuters on Georgia’s roadways.”
You can also check to see if your phone has a Do Not Disturb feature which, when activated, detects when a phone is moving. If a phone is in motion, the feature informs the sender of a message or phone call that the person they are trying to reach is driving and will call or message back when the driver reaches his or her’s destination.
While the new law will allow drivers to use hands-free technology to make and receive phone calls and use GPS devices, drivers cannot at any time use their phones to write, read and send text messages, emails, social media and internet data. The use of voice-to-text technology is allowed, however.
Drivers will also be prohibited from watching and/or recording videos (though GPS and navigational videos and continuously running dash cameras are allowed). You will be able to listen to music through streaming apps on your phone, but you can not activate that app or change music using your device while driving. Music streaming apps programmed and controlled through a vehicle’s radio system are allowed. However, you should note that watching videos through music apps are prohibited.
“We have received a lot of inquiries about the use of music streaming apps and we want everyone to know you can listen to your music through your phone, provided you turn on that app before you get on the road,” Hydrick said. “Whether it is listening to music, making a phone call or finding the best route on your GPS, we want to everyone to remember keeping your focus on what is happening on the road is your top priority every time you are behind the wheel.”
If you think you’ll have time to adjust to these new rules, think again. GOHS, Georgia Department of Public Safety and local police officers are informing motorists there is no 90-day grace period for enforcement. While many officers will issue warnings for violations in the first months of the law as part of the education effort, citations can be issued starting July 1 where officers believe they are warranted, especially for violations that involve traffic crashes.
You can find out more information about the Hands-Free Georgia Act by visiting the website dedicated to educating residents about the law.
Article shared from the Smyrna Patch and written by Kristal Dixon, June 12, 2018
The new month brought a staffing change as Trisha D’Abreau joined the PIAG Insurance team. D’Abreau filled the vacant role of producer for the insurance agency.
D’Abreau is passionate about helping members protect their businesses and is committed to serving as a trusted advisor. She is dedicated to treating each individual with dignity and respect and truly enjoys guiding others in exploring various insurance options through a consultative sales approach. She takes the time to explain coverages and benefits and believes in providing a highly personalized experience to her clientele.
D’Abreau enjoys building strong relationships with local business owners and their employees through community involvement, active membership in the Chamber of Commerce and old-fashioned face-to-face networking.
What Does Umbrella Insurance Cover?
Whether it’s a serious car accident involving pricey medical bills or an incident on your property, you can quickly find yourself responsible for damages that exceed the limits on your auto, homeowners, or boat policies.
Umbrella insurance provides extra liability coverage that can help protect assets, such as your home, car, and boat. It also helps cover defense costs, attorney fees, and other charges associated with lawsuits.
In today’s world, anyone can get hit with a lawsuit. That’s why it’s more important than ever to consider an added layer of protection for your assets – and your peace of mind. Contact PIAG Insurance, 770.433.3050, today to get your free quote for an umbrella policy.
Video provided by Traveler’s Insurance as part of the Distracted Driver Awareness Month campaign. Learn more about Traveler’s Insurance at www.travelers.com.
April 24, 2018
On May 1, 2018, Pressing News, the Printing & Imaging Association of Georgia’s (PIAG) weekly email to membership, will be receive some format changes to better serve the membership of the association. A new logo, a new look, focused content, and frequency are just a few things the association will be change for this publication. These changes are part of an effort to better meet members needs and to provide them with more focused content in a new format. The weekly email will move to a bi-weekly email with information focused around four areas: Top Stories for the Printing Industries, Membership Benefits, Insurance, and Events.
Staff members at PIAG hope that the changes will improve readership, enhance the value of membership, and provide a new member experience. To continue to improve the publication, they plan to assess the membership on a regular basis and make the necessary adjustments.
“We want to make sure our members are getting the information they need, that information is relevant, and they feel there is a value added for the membership.” stated April Wallis, Director of Member Engagement for PIAG.
Changes for the new format include but are not limited to:
- Frequency change from weekly to bi-weekly
- New logo
- Overall new layout
- Focused content around membership, events, and insurance
- Increased interactive reader experience through polls, surveys, and possible giveaways.
April 17, 2018
The following is from Piedmont Healthcare at www.keeppiedmont.org
Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Have a New Agreement
We are pleased that Piedmont and Anthem Blue Cross have shaken hands on a new agreement. The arrangement ensures patients that have Blue Cross insurance can continue to see their Piedmont doctors and visit Piedmont hospitals without incurring higher out-of-pocket costs, including covering visits and services delivered since April 1 as “in-network.”
We sincerely appreciate Governor Deal’s assistance in bringing the parties together and creating a higher sense of urgency toward resolution.
Preserving the relationship between the patient and their preferred healthcare provider has been our number one goal during this entire negotiation. We know this has been difficult for our patients, and we are sorry for that. Please know that we did everything in our power to avoid a disruption in your care. We understand the value of your trust.
April 17, 2018
Insure Your Business Against Ransomware
Recently, the city of Atlanta was hit by a ransomware attack that has so far cost the city nearly three million dollars and left many city government departments offline causing some to revert to paper records. Ransomware is a malware (malicious software) that can be spread through email attachments, infected apps, or compromised websites. These computers, files, and records are then held by the hackers until a ransom is paid. Usually, the ransom amount is relatively small to encourage the victim to pay to get those things back.
While it may be difficult to prevent an attack from happening to you, there are insurance policies that may help you avoid substantial financial liabilities in the event it does happen. The more robust policies help pay for extra wages to pay for overtime as well as the ransom payment itself.
Call PIAG Insurance at 770-433-3050 today to find out more about how these policies can help you protect your business.
Please visit piaginsurance.com to find an application and more information about how we can help your business with this and other business insurance policies.
Deal Gives Both Sides in Piedmont-Blue Cross Dispute an Ultimatum
Gov. Nathan Deal gave two health care firms at the center of an impasse that’s left about 650,000 people in limbo until Tuesday to reach an agreement over insurance reimbursements — or risk him taking executive action.
The governor met Monday with the leaders of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare to try to compel an agreement over a new contract after their last agreement expired April 1, leaving many Piedmont patients to pay out-of-network costs for their current doctors.
When the sit-down ended without a breakthrough, the governor used social media to warn he would be “forced to initiate executive action” if the two health care giants don’t resolve the dispute by Tuesday afternoon.
Deal has prodded the two sides to hash out a compromise for weeks, worried that droves of state employees could be left in the lurch without one. Monday’s meeting was described as a candid — and at times uncomfortable — discussion where Deal put both sides on notice. If the stalemate isn’t snapped, it could mean that patients would have to find a new care provider or risk being stuck with much higher out-of-network costs such as co-pays if they go to their familiar caregiver.
It’s unclear what the governor would do, but his options include allowing a “re-enrollment” period for state employees that would let Blue Cross members choose a new insurer. He could also order state officials to explore ways to increase competition for hospitals and insurers in the markets rocked by the dispute.
‘Sense of urgency’
The deadlock affects about 650,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their families, and the state has said it would pick up the out-of-network costs for its employees for up to 30 days. Deal’s office said that could cost $42 million.
State officials are bewildered and frustrated with the contract fight and hoped the meeting will speed a resolution. State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, for one, vented that the negotiations have “gone on too long.”
“I fully support the governor’s stance on this issue and strongly encourage both parties to act now in the best interest of their customers,” he said.
There have been recent signs of progress: Both sides were deep in negotiations last week, and the firms both said they’re confident a deal could soon be struck.
“We share the governor’s sense of urgency about getting this resolved for the patients, and we are willing to meet with Blue Cross around the clock until it’s resolved,” said Matt Gove, a Piedmont executive. Blue Cross used similar language in a statement Monday that said it is “prepared to negotiate non-stop to bring Piedmont’s hospitals and physicians back into our network.”
The showdown involves two titans in Georgia’s medical industry, and the outcome is being closely watched by other health care firms. Blue Cross is the state’s dominant insurer, while Piedmont has launched a massive expansion that includes buying hospitals in Athens, Columbus, Conyers and Covington.
The footprint of the patients affected by the dispute is vast. About a half-million current patients of Blue Cross have seen a Piedmont provider within the past 18 months. And there are some 2 million Blue Cross Georgia customers who could have used Piedmont as an in-network provider.
Both companies, while tight-lipped on exact details, have been quick to point fingers at one another. Piedmont posted a note to its patients earlier this month saying that Blue Cross is failing to offer doctors reimbursement rates that cover the annual rate of inflation “but they will tell you that we are asking for unfair rate increases.”
Blue Cross President Jeff Fusile has shot back, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that the insurer is trying to be even-handed. “We’ve offered a fair rate,” Fusile said. “Piedmont’s determined that they don’t believe that it’s a fair rate. And we keep going back and forth to find the balance between them providing good quality care and helping our members continue to afford it.”
The two firms have scrapped before over Blue Cross’ reluctance to fund some in-hospital MRIs and CAT scans when they can be done for less elsewhere, as well as the insurer’s policy not to cover emergency-room costs when it decides that care wasn’t warranted.
A Piedmont spokesman also said doctor payments were a roadblock.
Whatever happens, the clash is likely to send ripple waves across Georgia’s health care industry. Bill Custer, a health care professor at Georgia State University, said fast-growing health care providers such as Piedmont that treat an increasing number of people face a natural tension with large insurers seeking to lower costs.
“However this negotiation ends,” he said, “it will be at the very least a step toward a changed health care delivery system.”
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and PIAG Insurance wants to make sure you arrive safely each time. More than 40,000 Americans died on the roads in 2016, the most significant increase in deaths over a two-year period in more than 50 years.1 Whether someone you love has been known to text and drive, or you have found yourself distracted behind the wheel, these tips can help avoid dangerous activity on the road.
- Stow your phone. Turning off the phone and putting it in “do not disturb” mode can help remove the temptation to browse online at a red light or respond right away to a text message.
- Vow not to multi-task. Anything that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel. Make time at home to eat meals or put on makeup, so you can focus on the road.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting family members and friends when you know they are driving to avoid distracting them.
- Talk to your employer. Responding to texts or taking calls for work while driving can be dangerous. Encourage your employer to have a distracted driving policy that includes waiting to talk with employees until they are safely parked.
- Keep kids and pets safe. Make sure kids are in proper car seats and that pets stay secured in their zone in the back of your vehicle. It can also help reduce distractions if pets are not roaming about the car.
- Set a good example. Parents can model good behavior for their children by demonstrating attentive driving. Avoid texting, eating, grooming or calling someone while behind the wheel.
- Plan your route before you go. Programming your navigation system while you drive can take your eyes off the road. It’s better to ask a passenger to do it or to enter your destination before you leave home.
- Speak up. If you see someone texting or otherwise driving while distracted, say something and let them know that you are not comfortable with that behavior. Encourage your children to do the same when they are passengers in a friend’s car. It could save a life.
- Set rules of the road. Consider restricting the number of passengers until your teen or new driver gains experience behind the wheel.
- Avoiding reaching. Resist the urge to reach for items if they fall while driving.
Taking your eyes off the road to search for an item can make you more likely to have an accident.
Share these tips to help keep others safe. For more on ways to reduce distracted driving, check out Every Second Matters, Travelers’ conversation starter on reducing distracted driving risk.
1 National Safety Council, NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates.
Gov. Nathan Deal today directed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare to return to the negotiating table on behalf of the nearly 600,000 employees, retirees and their families affected by the recent contract disruption. Deal also announced the state and the University System of Georgia will absorb out-of-network claims for affected employees for up to 30 days in order to minimize patients’ financial burdens.
“My administration will not sit idly by during this contract dispute and leave our state and university system employees, teachers and their families in the balance,” said Deal. “My top priority is the well-being of our members. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must return to the negotiating table, and Blue Cross Blue Shield must honor the contractual obligations made to the state. If an equitable solution is not reached, I’ve directed the Department of Community Health and the State Health Benefit Plan to explore all possible solutions to ensure our members have access to care. The university system stands ready to take similar action on behalf of its employees. This step is necessary in order to protect our citizens from unanticipated costs and interruption to care.”
“We want to make sure University System of Georgia families have access to the care they need and this 30-day extension is a necessary step to provide coverage for our employees,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must come to a quick resolution to this contract dispute so additional costs are not incurred by employees of the University System of Georgia and the state. We will continue to explore all options to ensure employees and their families have continued access to the healthcare they have been relying on through the University System of Georgia healthcare plans.”