The House just voted overwhelmingly to ban teenagers from using wireless devices while driving.
By a vote of 138-34, the House approved HB 23, which makes it illegal for minor motorists to talk or text on cell phones, PDAs or other devices while driving. That ban would also include “hands-free” devices like Bluetooth microphones.
The bill generated some of the most intense debate of the day.
Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta), said with three teenage children, he likes the idea that they will not be on the phone while driving in Atlanta traffic.
But Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough) said the state can’t replace parents.
“I care deeply about the safety of my children,” said Davis, whose kids are 20, 14 and 12. “The state of Georgia cannot be the parent of my child. I am the parent of my child,” he said. “This bill isn’t going to stop teenage drivers from being stupid.”
But Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross), the chairman of the Motor Vehicles Committee, said he has for years fought off efforts to restrict cell phone use.
That was because, he said, an industry study had found cell phone use to be down the list of dangerous driver distractions. That has changed in the past year, he said.
“They’ve since run to number one,” he said.