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Holding your phone while driving will soon be illegal in Georgia

Georgia's governor is expected to sign a new distracted driving bill Wednesday.

>> Watch the news report here

The law will make it illegal to hold your phone while you're driving.

Gov. Nathan Deal won't be signing that bill at the Capitol. Deal will do it in Statesboro, home of Georgia Southern University. That's where five nursing students killed in a highway crash went to school.

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“Don’t view this as a hostile act by the state government,” Deal said. “It is an act to protect the safety of anyone.”

WSB-TV’s Aaron Diamant spoke exclusively with the parents of one of those women. They fought for the law they say will save lives.

Craig and Kathy Clark of Cobb County will be in Statesboro to mark the milestone.

“This is something that's coming out of a horrific situation,” Craig Clark said.

MORE FROM WSBTV.COM:

>> Georgia governor says he plans to sign hands-free bill

>> Georgia lawmakers pushing new ‘hands-free driving' bill

>> Put your phone down: Georgia could soon be a hands-free state

>> Another Cobb County city looks to ban hand-held cellphone use while driving

>> City votes to ban cellphones while driving

>> Lawmaker pre-files bill banning drivers from talking on cell phones without hands-free device

Emily Clark was one of the nursing students who died in the 2015 wreck after a tractor-trailer hit the girl’s SUV while it was stopped in traffic on I-16 eastbound. 

“To take a life, I don’t know how someone could live with themselves just because they were looking at a text message or talking on the phone and was distracted,” Kathy Clark said.

The new law will make it illegal for drivers to hold a phone while driving.

“Taking your eyes off the roads for those few seconds mean the difference between life and death,” Craig Clark said.

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Truck driver John Wayne Johnson is serving a five-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide, and the trucking company paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements to the families of those who died. The two survivors, including Megan Richards of Loganville, were awarded $15 million after a 2017 trial. 

“If you can say that that this saves one life, then everything that we went through and hoped for could be well worth it,” Kathy Clark said.

The law will go into effect July 1, 2018, and will impose stiff fines for offenders.

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