St8 bans txtN yl drivN; teens barred frm ph uz Bhnd wheel

Pending the signature of Gov. Perdue, it will soon be illegal to text while driving.

In sweeping legislation, the Senate and the House also voted to ban teens from using cell phone while driving. The two bills, one of the sponsors said, would significantly change the culture of Georgia’s roads forever.

“This is a good day for Georgia because we have addressed a dangerous, growing trend – texting while driving,” said Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

The two bills that passed were:

•HB 23, sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), which bans Class D drivers – mostly teens – from talking on their cell phones while driving.

•SB 360, which would ban texting by all drivers. Sponsored by Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), the bill will be known as the Caleb Sorohan Act, named after a Morgan County teenager who died while texting.

“A year ago, Rep. Ramsey tried to pass this bill,” said David Belton, a member of the Morgan County Board of Education. “If that bill had been a law then, Caleb would still be alive.”

Added Ramsey: “A lot of parents, in the years to come, are not going to get that phone call that all of us fear as parents.”

In violating either of the laws, a driver would face a maximum fine of $150 and one point on his driver’s license. Murphy, the head of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said he is not worried about the concerns over how to address the laws. Critics have wondered how an officer can prove that someone is texting as opposed to simply making a phone call.

Murphy said that if someone were stopped under suspicion of texting, they would also likely be guilty of reckless driving or improper lane changing, which carries a heavier fine.

Teresa Hildebrand of AAA said that with passage of the bills, “Georgia has now gotten ahead of what could be many dead bodies on the road. We are ahead of the curve on this.”

Hildebrand said there are about 20 other states in the country that has banned texting.

35 comments Add your comment

T.A.

April 29th, 2010
5:51 pm

The problem that I have with this legislation is why just ban teenagers from using their cell phone while driving? Are adults any better than teenagers? As a college student, I see more adults during rush hour on their cell phones holding up traffic than I see teenagers and my fellow college students. Please note that I also commute 30+ miles to school each day so I have seen quite a bit when I’m driving from Stockbridge to Marietta and through Downtown Atlanta traffic each morning.

Voice of Reason

April 29th, 2010
5:59 pm

I completely agree with “T.A.”. If next year the legislature elects to pass a bill banning talking by cell phone on all drivers, I hope they include as a part of the bill, women putting on makeup and people reading books or papers!

Peter

April 29th, 2010
6:03 pm

Ban all texting and all cell phone use, unless when talking on the phone you have a hands free unit. There is no difference in talking to some one on a hands free than there is talking to someone in the front seat.

bob

April 29th, 2010
6:10 pm

I fully support and agree with this legislation.

Robert M

April 29th, 2010
6:18 pm

Another bs and unenforceable law.

So it is legal to read and operate my car’s navigation system or my TomTom. But if I need to punch up directions/map on my iphone I can’t.

I can read the newspaper while driving but I can’t read an email.

I can reach in the backseat for my briefcase but I can’t text my wife that I will be home late.

EV

April 29th, 2010
6:21 pm

This bill is addressing a real and true public safety issue.
I am completely in support of the legislation as is.

Dee

April 29th, 2010
6:24 pm

I don’t get it….why spotlight texting? Wouldn’t it just be reckless driving like any other time you violate a traffic law or get in a wreck (there are no such things as accidents, folks) because you were doing anything but paying full attention to the road? As Robert M. noted, there are many other ways that a driver can be distracted, so are we going to need a law for each and every one?

Dee

April 29th, 2010
6:26 pm

@EV – I agree texting and phones are a safety issue. My objection is that here we are again passing more and more laws when we could solve the problem by enforcing the ones we already have.

Hugh

April 29th, 2010
6:31 pm

A driver that has 20+ years experience on the road is less likely to cause a wreck while talking on a cell phone than someone who has been driving only a few years. Don’t believe me? Just check the stats…

All I'm Saying Is...

April 29th, 2010
6:33 pm

Driver distraction is not just due to texting while driving as it is also related to doing anything other than focusing on driving your vehicle. We have all come to accept fiddling with the radio, finding a CD to play, selecting another song from your iPod that’s plugged into the car stereo, putting on make-up, eating, talking to yourself or to your passengers, etc.

What’s my point? Well if you want to address driving distraction then the least you can do is ban any cell phone use and any texting and that’s what the legislature should do if they want to go ‘full monty’ with their Nanny State efforts.

Diane

April 29th, 2010
6:41 pm

What should have been done a long time ago is just ban talking on the phone unless it is hand held. There are a lot of states that already have this on their books, what’s wrong with us?

All I'm Saying Is...

April 29th, 2010
6:47 pm

Again, I say they should

a) Ban all in car phone use by the driver while car in motion whether cell phone is used while hand held or hands free and

b) Ban all texting while car in motion by driver

Both should be banned if you really want to address driver distraction.

JACKIE

April 29th, 2010
6:55 pm

.SAW A LADY IN A MINIVAN: She had cell on shoulder held in place by her cocked sideways head, she was holding a piece of paper on center of steering wheel with her left hand, and writing on the paper with her right hand, and appeared to be talking to someone in the passenger seat. She appeared to be steering with her knees. And, on the 4 lane road, she was in the right lane, with traffic backing up behind her, and people trying to get around her. She was doing about 30 and the left lanewas moving at 50. I know all this because I was behind her and finally, when i had to stop at a red light, I looked straight at her

jay

April 29th, 2010
7:01 pm

more revenue

T.A.

April 29th, 2010
7:01 pm

@ Hugh – you may be right that drivers who have driven for 20 years have more experience. Not paying attention knows no age. You can be driving for 20 years but if you are driving and on a cell phone and too much into the conversation, you will hit someone. I think this law needs to be tweaked to include everyone on a cell phone. I find it ridiculous to single out just teenagers.

I have talked on a cell phone while driving- and after knowing how much of a danger it is, I refuse to answer my phone should it ring and I’m driving. For people that know me, if it’s an emergency, they’ll call me back to back two or three times. In that case, I will pull over to the shoulder and answer my phone. Unless it is that important, it can wait until I get to my destination or when I stop.

@Voice of Reason: I totally agree. I’ve seen one man driving a pickup truck changing his t-shirt while going 45 mph. That is dangerous. I’ve seen people filiing papers, the whole nine yards. Just this morning a lady was putting on make up on Eagles Landing Parkway in Stockbridge holding up traffic on the 2 lane stretch of road. People need not do this while driving.

Alabama Communist

April 29th, 2010
7:14 pm

In amazing turnround at the State Capital today, SB Bill 6666 ban Police enforcement from using their computers and radios while in high speed chases. The Bill was the brainchild of Senator Do Good from Rawls County who said “it was about time that payback was given to the Cops since they rack up 545 Police Cars in wrecks last year, no counting 34 dead bodies of victims who were caught in the pursits”,,,,,

BC

April 29th, 2010
7:22 pm

I agree with the law, but it’s sad that we have to pass a law to accomplish what common sense should dictate to us already.

Piss off, legislature

April 29th, 2010
7:22 pm

What dip$#!+ decided that cell phones were a teen driving problem? One kid does a stupid thing, and they feel the need to pass a law outlawing this behavior……..but only for teens. Good thing I can still change clothes or read the newspaper while driving.

Hell, I can talk on two cell phones since I’m a Class C driver.

TheIdahoKid

April 29th, 2010
7:23 pm

Ban all cell phones, just do away with them completely, it’ll be like doing away with booze, that worked didn’t it. Just make the use of a cell phone while driving super expensive, if involved with an accident, insurance will not cover the person texting or talking on a cell phone,

whatdoiknow

April 29th, 2010
7:26 pm

St8 bans txtN yl drivN; teens barred frm ph uz Bhnd wheel

I get the title of this story. However, I am looking for a newspaper in Atlanta. Anyone know where I can find a real newspaper in Atlanta?

Alabama Communist: Classic of the classics!

whatdoiknow

April 29th, 2010
7:28 pm

By the way, did I mention there are already laws on the books that address this kind of distracting behavior while driving?

django

April 29th, 2010
7:32 pm

banning texting for teens…this is a priority over Teachers pay? Steady buck passing, BSing and jiving going on at the Capitol eh? This is a priority? How about cleaning up the tangled Transportation mess, I mean you’re on your way out why not at least try to appear competent?
Perdue and his kind have been like a Plague to this State and nation…completely disgusted with the incompetence

Thomas

April 29th, 2010
8:27 pm

I’m with piss off. I see the positive merits of such legislature, but currently I can flip through my CD book, change out all 6 CDs in my in-dash changer (came standard, bought up in Canton), find my way through town on my GPS, light up a stogie, smack the kids in the back seat, all while shifting gears…

Nice election year piece of legislature!

Hugh

April 30th, 2010
5:35 am

I think everyone understands the concern and no one wants to get that call saying a loved one has been in a wreck because of their usage or someone else using a cell phone and/or texting. However, where do we stop with this? I commute 40+ miles to work each day and I see as many women putting on makeup with the visor pulled down as I see people on the phone. Why isn’t this illegal? Do we also stop a person from writing a note while driving? Why don’t we also ban pushing buttons on our car radios; after all a button is a button isn’t it? Certainly, it needs to be against the law to search for and insert a CD into the player and select a song while driving. Usage of navigation units should be outlawed if we are going to make cell phone/texting illegal. Why don’t we also make it illegal for a smoker to roll down the window and fling their cigarette butt on the ground? That law’s already on the books and is called littering, and it’s totally unenforced in the state of GA. I’m not trying to be a smarta##, but my only point is that common sense is hard to legislate.

Hook

April 30th, 2010
6:37 am

A law is only as good as the agency that’s to enforce it. I see people rolling through stop signs at very busy and dangerous intersections all the time in DEKALB county.

Cindy

May 2nd, 2010
9:12 pm

I agree with this, however what about the individuals that I see reading books, putting on make-up, yada yada yada….There should not be any exceptions!!!!

Saving the environment?

May 2nd, 2010
9:26 pm

What some of you guys are proposing makes no sense at all: banning all use of the cell phone. If you really believe that talking on cell phones is responsible for so many wrecks, then let’s just make a bunch of single occupancy cars (like smart cars with one seat…). There’s no difference between talking on the phone and talking to your passenger. Heaven forbid that we even consider the soccer moms who have to transport a couple kids. They’re the biggest distraction of all.

I guess, maybe, that one of your presumptions is that if you’re talking on a cell phone then you can, at the maximum, have only one hand on the wheel. So while we’re at it, let’s make sure to issue citations for people driving without there hands at 10′ and 2′: coffee drinkers, smokers, radio users, GPS users, gum chewers, etc.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no way to prevent driver distractions. There are too many! Quit making our lives miserable by passing these silly laws that are difficult, at best, to enforce.

To the guy who said he pulls over to take a phone call. You probably cause more trouble by slowing down and pulling off the freeway than most cell phone users.

Matt

May 2nd, 2010
9:42 pm

When do these new laws come into effect?

Shannon

May 2nd, 2010
10:05 pm

The law already states “no distractions” while driving, this makes it more specific. The main problem with this is the potential for a lawsuit against someone that causes a major accident or death in a motor vehicle while using a cell phone. Parents beware: If your teen causes a death while using a phone, the potential of a lawsuit that takes away everything you own can happen. And adults, the same would apply to you if you are texting while driving and cause a serious accident or death: some high-profile lawyer could take away everything you own just by using your cell phone records. This is scary. This is a habit that has been allowed to happen for years and now abstaining from it is going to be difficult.
I will do my best to tell and teach my teens that are already driving to quit using their phones. But does anyone really thing it’ll work all the time? They are teens; they do many things we tell them not to as they “mature”. This law will only apply to future drivers or non-cell phone users. This law only opens up the potential for lawsuits, especially when insurance companies ban payment if it involves cell phones. And if this had been a law before the teens death last year that it is named after, there is no way of knowing if he would have followed the law. Traffic laws and Teens? I wish even adults followed traffic laws!

Jill

May 2nd, 2010
10:56 pm

At least I can still email while driving. ;-)

Sp Ed Teacher

May 2nd, 2010
11:53 pm

I use speaker phone and talk as I drive–hands free.

Tom

May 3rd, 2010
12:24 am

Lets just ban driving.

or lets increase the speed limit to 200 and so everyone has to be extremely careful without a second’s hesitation or distraction.

Traci

May 3rd, 2010
12:25 am

if you have ever been in a car while someone was texting and driving — it’s scary as hell.
I refuse to ride anywhere with someone who can not keep their eyes on the road.

whatever the text is about can wait til the person gets from behind the steering wheel. People thonk they are so invincible and they will never be in an accident while texting — well I can say – I have seen some close calls.

Steve P.

May 3rd, 2010
2:22 am

What would be nice is if there were an ‘auto-reply’ app that we could download, similar to the ‘out of office’ that we often see in response to emails. It would say something down the lines of “I have received your text; however, I am currently operating a vehicle or in some other situation in which it would be irresponsible to respond. I will reply to your message when I either reach my destination or when it is otherwise possible for me to do so.”

Only problem is, people would conveniently forget to activate it.

Shannon

May 3rd, 2010
10:05 am

Nope Jill, the new law states for adults: no texting or using the internet (which includes email, even though there is a separate button for that). The only thing adults can use the cell phone for is talking, no pushing buttons except for phone calls.