Your morning jolt: Sonny Perdue’s doubts about a ban on texting while driving

After signing a water conservation bill on Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue explained why he might veto SB 360, a bill that would ban adult drivers from texting while at the wheel.

Gov. Sonny Perdue signs a water conservation bill at Buford Dam Park on Tuesday. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue signs a water conservation bill at Buford Dam Park on Tuesday. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

This from 11Alive:

“I’ve got some concerns over the enforceability of that,” Perdue said at a news conference….

The governor has until June 8th to sign all bills into law. The bill in question is S.B. 360, also known as Caleb’s Law. It bans texting while driving for anyone 18 and older; the problematic area is the part that makes it illegal to “read any text based communication.”

Here is Perdue’s example to describe why enforcing that part could be an issue:

“If I get my e-mails and I pick up a smart-phone and read my e-mails, I’m violating the law. But if I print out my e-mails and I have a sheet of paper driving [and look at it], then I haven’t violated the law.

Candidates fell over Alabama last night. Here’s the bodycount from the Associated Press:

A candidate lost his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor in the state’s Democratic primary, while voters in another race there ousted a congressman months after he switched from the Democratic party to the GOP.

In the Alabama governor’s race, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis was overwhelmed by a white Democratic primary opponent who had garnered support from the state’s four major black political groups. Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks won the Democratic primary with 62 percent of the vote to Davis’s 38 percent, with 96 percent of the precincts reporting.

The state’s traditional civil rights organizations backed Sparks after Davis voted against President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul. But Davis, a Harvard lawyer who led Obama’s campaign here in 2008, had endorsements from Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights pioneer from Alabama, and Mobile’s first black mayor, Sam Jones.

Voter Ben Ray picked Sparks, who has taken positions popular with Democrats, calling for an expansion of gambling, including a lottery, and supporting the federal health care plan.

“I just like his position on the education lottery,” Ray said. “I think we need that here.”

The chairman of the black Alabama Democratic Conference, Joe Reed, said Davis was hurt by refusing to seek the endorsements of African-American groups and by voting against the federal health care plan.

Seven GOP candidates for governor were competing in their party’s primary Tuesday, and the top vote-getters were expected to go to a runoff on July 13.

A recount will likely determine who will join former two-year college chancellor Bradley Byrne in a Republican runoff for governor on July 13.
Byrne secured a runoff spot with 28 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.

The second spot is too close to call with Tuscaloosa physician Robert Bentley leading Greenville businessman Tim James by 140 votes with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

The blog Georgia Liberal, a relatively new presence on the Georgia political scene, has issued a list of Democratic endorsements in the July primary: Both Porters, for governor and lieutenant governor; Michael Thurmond for U.S. Senate; Rob Teilhet for attorney general; Gail Buckner for secretary of state, and several other contests.

Ken Hodges, one of two Democratic candidates for attorney general, is passing around a new biographical video.

Many have noted the hurdle that Hodges faces among African-Americans because of his failure to prosecute in the 2003 case of a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black motorist in Columbus.

So it is significant that Hodges opens the video with the testimony of Mary Jenkins of Albany, an African-American whose 18-year-old grandson was murdered. Hodges prosecuted the killer, who is now serving out a life sentence:

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop is stepping into a census dispute that wraps prisons, illegal immigration and rural depopulation into a single package. From the Associated Press:

For the first time, states have the option of counting people in detention centers and prisons as residents of their last address before they’re detained, worrying some local lawmakers who say cities and counties that host detention centers could lose money.

“Detention centers and prisons should probably count where they are located, that’s where resources would be required,” Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Georgia wrote in a May letter to the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the census. Bishop represents Stewart County, Georgia, population 4,600, where the nation’s largest detention center housed a total of 14,000 people between April 2007 and March 2008.

ICE operates 22 immigrant detention centers and also houses people in hundreds of other jails or prisons. Most of the largest centers are in small towns in Texas, Arizona and Georgia. Texas is home to six detention centers, and Arizona has three.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

67 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

June 2nd, 2010
9:34 am

Sonny, While one could pick up a printout, or even a book or newspaper, their is no other action beyond reading and comprehending, which can be a distraction. With texting, while the operator can read the message, they can also answer the text, which will not only distract their attention, but also require them to use their hands and fingers.

Sign the bill.

PS Most teenagers don’t read papers/books any more…. they are helpless w/o their electronics!

Morrus

June 2nd, 2010
9:54 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Benny Watson

June 2nd, 2010
9:54 am

So the guv’s argument is that the texting law is not strong enough? I agree, but let’s at least go forward with this small move in the right direction.

Reporting A Typo

June 2nd, 2010
9:56 am

Michael Thurmond, not Michael Thurman

lmno

June 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

Its crazy that people need a law to stop them from texting while driving. Put hands on wheel. Pay attention. Always be aware that you could die at any moment while driving.

I find it strange for Ken Hodges to point to a single case in which he prosecuted a person for homicide and got a conviction. Seems that his opponent could simply point out the several times he prosecuted a homicide and did not get a conviction.

Governor's Race

June 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

http://www.poythressforgovernor.com/node/302

STATEMENT OF GENERAL DAVID POYTHRESS ON ROY BARNES’ HYPOCRISY

“Roy Barnes has proven himself to be a career-politician
and hypocrite who is unelectable in November”
- General David Poythress

“Yesterday was a game-changing moment in this campaign that proves that Roy Barnes cannot win in November. If Democrats are serious about re-taking the Governor’s office, we will elect someone else on July 20th. The recent revelations by the Savannah Morning News illustrate that the more we find out about Barnes’ cozy relationship with the big banks and the Wall Street crowd the more reasons there are to question whether he should be the Democratic nominee.

“Further, Roy Barnes crossed the line when he aired television spots saying ‘Bankers and their lobbyists got bonuses and bailouts, but you lost your home.’ The fact is Roy Barnes owns well over a half-million dollars worth of stock in the same banks that received Federal Bailout money. He even accepted big dividend checks from those banks after our tax dollars bailed them out. The big banks, Wall Street crowd and Barnes got rich, while we are stuck here in Georgia to fend for ourselves. Simply put, Roy Barnes has proven himself to be a career-politician and hypocrite who is unelectable in November.

“I firmly believe that Democrats are hungry for a nominee who can beat the Republicans in November. As a three-star General who has pledged not to accept a salary as Governor until Georgia’s unemployment comes below seven percent, I am that candidate. I will continue to take this message across Georgia and give Democrats a choice to win this election. “

Jim Galloway

June 2nd, 2010
10:01 am

Thanks for the catch. It’s fixed.

Fulton Resident

June 2nd, 2010
10:02 am

Sonny brings up an important issue with the bill – I was hoping someone would. If you’re going to do a ban, I’m fine with it, but this bill is too undefined and not thought through.

I don’t want to get a ticket for using VZ navigator GPS on my phone because some cop thinks I’m texting.

WGD

June 2nd, 2010
10:07 am

Veto the bill – Until every distraction, i.e. radio, CD player, GPS, phone, conversation with other occupants, etc. is deemed a violation, then don’t single out texting.

There is a sickness in GA

June 2nd, 2010
10:09 am

With Caleb’s Law, the Gov. is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Regardless what Perdue does, the next Gov., who I suspect will be Barnes, will most likely sign legislation banning adult texting while driving.

Also, looks like Perdue is going to let the Pick-up Truck seat belt law die on his desk too. Disappointing.

WGD

June 2nd, 2010
10:13 am

@Fulton Resident – you bring up a valid point as well with regard to the GPS on the phone.
Also, It is true that the carrier can provide the time that a text was sent/received but, if I receive an email or text at 5:00 AM this morning and decide to read it while driving home, then the time/date stamp will prove nothing. The law, as written, bans me from reading the communication regardless of the time it was received. So, for those who wish to use a carrier trace to “prove” a driver of texting need to keep thinking.
Veto the bill — It cannot be enforced as written.

Road Scholar

June 2nd, 2010
10:16 am

Fulton Resident: Why do you think that you are exempt from not paying enough attention why operating your GPS? Pull over, or do it at a redlight! I know I’m guilty of the same while talking on the phone, but I have 40 years of experience driving…I also try to dial at a redlight or pull over to dial. How many years of experience do the teenagers have? Ya’ll are driving a weapon!

Jury Dell

June 2nd, 2010
10:17 am

What rhymns with Sonny and prevents reasonable laws from being passed? Hint: It starts with “M”.

Mike

June 2nd, 2010
10:30 am

For those that think Sonny should sign the bill, please try to remove emotion from the issue and rationally explain how a police office is supposed to enforce it.

Decatur Metro

June 2nd, 2010
10:34 am

Bigger 11Alive typo: SB360 applies to residents 18 AND YOUNGER, not older.

Susan Davis

June 2nd, 2010
10:37 am

There’s a big difference in glancing at a piece of paper and taking your hands off the steering wheel and your eyes off the road to type a message to someone. That’s what the little ear-piece thingy is for. Simple fix: if you have an accident while texting, your insurance will not cover ANY part of the accident.

Matt the Brave

June 2nd, 2010
10:39 am

I know that it is highly un-enforceable, but something must be done. Our neighbor got hit by someone texting on April 19. Her vehicle was of course damaged greatly, but what is scarier is that she had whiplash and has a frayed nerve in her neck. She literally faces a lifelong medical issue because this other woman decided to pay attention to her PHONE, driving 65 MPH on a state highway and slammed into my neighbor with no brakes.

There is a sickness in GA

June 2nd, 2010
10:40 am

@WGD It’s true every distraction while driving is dangerous, however, text represents a new, more dangerous and mitigatable threat on our roadways than some of the other your listed, which is why over 23 states have passed laws against it.

WSB-TV and a local non-profit have teamed up to promote the “Exit 2 Text It” campaign, essential encouraging people to exit the roadway and pull over before sending or reading a text message.
I bring them up because their web site exit2textit.safeamerica.org has some information on why texting is so dangerous on the roadways.

Texting and driving is extremely reckless and for the Gov. to doing nothing to discourage this behavior because there are other types of reckless behaviors on the road is a somewhat nonsensical policy position.

Pdawg

June 2nd, 2010
10:42 am

Doing what is “right” is usually something above the law isn’t it? The problem with today’s society is they rely solely on laws as their minimum guide. Sad….

about time

June 2nd, 2010
10:44 am

While it’s rare that I agree with anything Sonny Perdue does but this bill needs to be vetoed. It is totally un-enforceable.

curt

June 2nd, 2010
10:46 am

It’s hard to believe that he could come up with an excuse for vetoing this bill but then again it’s Sonny. I wonder what getting this stopped cost the cell phone industry in “campaign contributions” at the expense of public safety.

There is a sickness in GA

June 2nd, 2010
10:48 am

@Mike Studies form around the nation show that about 40% of people stop texting and driving just due to texting laws being passed. A targeted New Jersey enforcement program uses officers standing on street corners to locate, pull over and cite cell phoning and texting drivers. That method of enforcement has been amongst the more effective.

There is a sickness in GA

June 2nd, 2010
10:55 am

@curt Even the cell phone industry supports these types of bill. As far as I know, there is no organized interest opposing this legislation. In fact, around the nation the insurance industry is a huge supporter of such legislation. As with the seat belt law, his opposition to this bill seems to be on ideological any regulatory grounds.

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
10:55 am

Fulton resident – if you need to activate or manipulate the GPS, you need to pull over and do so. Constant distraction of the kind you may be contemplating is just what this law is designed to ban.

Elliot Garcia

June 2nd, 2010
10:56 am

Lighting a cigarette and smoking it is a distraction while driving….why don’t you ban that too? Please veto this bill!

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
10:56 am

Perdue does not seem to be bothered by the enforcement of seat belt laws.

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
10:57 am

WGD – you are a damn fool. The reading of text takes focused, lengthy concentration. Changing a radio station does not, or if it does, you need to pull over.

Elliot Garcia

June 2nd, 2010
10:57 am

I don’t need a law for common sense!

ATHtoATL

June 2nd, 2010
11:00 am

@ Mike: Enforcement is actually quite simple…

Cops are not going to drive around looking for every driver they see with a phone in front of their face. They won’t be pulling a guy over just because it “looks” like he may be texting.

I’ve lived out in California, where there is a ban on texting and cell phones (you are required to use a hands free device). People aren’t pulled over because a police officer sees their phone, they’re pulled over when they’re being an actual danger to other drivers.

If you’re weaving in and out of your lane, causing danger to other drivers around you… you will get pulled over. If you’re driving erratically or run a red light because you were too busy texting to see it, you will get pulled over. If you’re in an accident, the police in California are able to pull your phone records to determine whether text messaging contributed to the wreck.

Enforcement is a lot easier than Sonny is making it out to be. In response to his argument, if he gets an e-mail while driving, why can’t he just wait until he’s at his destination before checking it?

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
11:00 am

The enforcement is not really the issue – the question is should this type of activity be legal, and it should not be. Enforcement will be difficult, but the widespread knowledge that this is illegal should curtail its occurrence. PLus, parents are given higher authority when the mandate that their children do not text.

There is a sickness in GA

June 2nd, 2010
11:02 am

@ Elliot Garcia Unlike lighting a cigarette, texting and emailing while driving represent a triple threat. It involves a convergence of visual, manual and cognitive distractions, all of which make texting while driving especially hazardous and potentially deadly.

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
11:03 am

Elliot – you are another damn fool. How much time does it do to light the cigarette? Then do you also light cigarettes for all your friends who are not in the car? elliot, what % of time do you spend texting in your car?

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
11:05 am

Elliot – other people do, don’t they? Or do you really have your head this deep in the sand? How old are you Elliot?

Jack

June 2nd, 2010
11:07 am

So, the characters printed on the page are not text. What exactly are they then?

Chan

June 2nd, 2010
11:08 am

SIGN the bill, DO SOMETHING BEFORE you leave office!!!

Stir It

June 2nd, 2010
11:15 am

Is there a law that prohibits driving with your eyes closed?

Paddy O

June 2nd, 2010
11:40 am

Yea, its called suicide.

You Asked

June 2nd, 2010
12:19 pm

Isn’t there already a law on the book about driving distracted? Pull over the text and talk happy boneheads who are swerving back and forth in their lane regardless of the toy that is causing them do drive like they’ve finished a 5th of Jack.

Bob

June 2nd, 2010
12:20 pm

Don’t sign it, Sonny. The Nanny State needs to get off her high horse. A tyrannical government is more of a threat than someone with a crackberry.

You Asked

June 2nd, 2010
12:21 pm

Idiots driving on crackberry are what causes people to call for the nanny state. It’s mutually destructive.

Concerned

June 2nd, 2010
12:21 pm

I agree that there may not be enough police to enforce the bill but it is needed. I agree with many of the other comments that we should not need laws to cause people to do what makes common sense. You would think that anyone, teen or otherwise, would be smart enough to know that texting and driving is just too dangerous. But, of course, that could also be said about drinking and driving. Anything that causes a driver to be impaired in any way is just wrong and I don’t understand why drivers don’t understand that.

Al Sharpton

June 2nd, 2010
12:26 pm

King Roy will solve all of our problems.

RT

June 2nd, 2010
12:28 pm

Decatur Metro – All headlines about this bill read 18 and younger, but if you read the bill as passed it reads “18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license’ . I guess 18 and younger are exempt..

Jefferson

June 2nd, 2010
12:48 pm

George you are supposed to be driving not reading. (Or talking on the phone) It is just as dangerous as driving drunk (not just drinking but DRUNK) test have proven this. Truth is he is action just as irresponsible as the children whom he should set an example for. There is a time to drive and a time to talk. Pull over and keep your mind on the road.

Drawing Black Lines

June 2nd, 2010
1:06 pm

Decatur metro @ 10:34….so is the law profiling age? That means older people will be unnecessarily hassled based on how they look.

Aquagirl

June 2nd, 2010
1:38 pm

More proof our idiot Governor doesn’t live in the real world. Shut up and sign the bill, Sonny.

Drawing Black Lines

June 2nd, 2010
1:41 pm

aquagirls got spunk. you kiss yo mamma with that mouth…trollup

Intruder

June 2nd, 2010
2:24 pm

Good move, Sonny. Now, let me talk to you about legislation dealing with drinking and driving. “Impaired”? Doesn’t texting while driving impair your ability to focus on driving? Yes, I know innocent people have died because drivers were drinking and driving, but I also thought that innocent people had died because drivers were texting while driving. I’m just not as smart as you are Sonny – and not as smart as some contributors to this blog, I guess. I fail to see the difference . . .

m

June 2nd, 2010
2:37 pm

If other states have laws against texting while driving that have been proved effective and can be reasonably enforced, why can’t we just duplicate other states’ laws here? Why re-invent the wheel and forget to put in the spokes? If this law is yet another half-baked, dim-witted piece of legislation that made it through the last session, like so many other half-baked, dim witted laws that have been hatched by the 40 watt bulbs in the legislature in the past eight years, then it probably is unenforceable. I long for the days of rigorous scrutiny of proposed new legislation by experienced lawyers who are not political hacks or cowards too afraid to challenge their numbskull legislator bosses. Tom Murphy, for all his faults, did not suffer stupid laws to be enacted.

Disavantaged Insider

June 2nd, 2010
2:45 pm

If laws were passed based on their enforceability, there’d be dang few of them! That’s a pretty lame excuse, even for Sonny, who is about as lame as they come.