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.