Summer drivers, put down the cellphones, buckle up in the trucks

Just in time to save lives during the busy summer holiday travel period, Governor Sonny Perdue has signed three highway safety measures that will become the rules of the road on Georgia’s streets and interstates: the teen cell phone use while driving ban, the all driver texting while driving ban, and the pickup truck safety belt law.

The state legislature, working with state and local law enforcement agencies and public safety advocates, came together to develop these life-saving initiatives. This coordinated effort culminated in two bills prohibiting texting while driving and another requiring pickup truck occupants to buckle up. All three bills were passed during Georgia’s 2010 legislative session and then signed into law by Governor Perdue.

The Teen Cell Phone Driving Ban prohibits drivers under the age of 18 with a Class D license from talking on cell phones AND texting while driving. Taking effect on July 1, penalties under this new law include a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license. In addition, monetary fines will be doubled for teen drivers proven to have violated the law at the time of a traffic crash.

The Texting While Driving Ban, which also goes into effect on July 1, applies to all drivers 18 and older who possess a Class C driver’s license. Under this new law, drivers cannot write, send or read a text message, email or use the internet on any wireless device while driving. Penalties under this new law also include a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license.

The Pickup Truck Safety Belt law is in effect since it was signed by Gov.Perdue on June 3. The new law requires both drivers and passengers of pickup trucks to buckle up in their vehicles except for certain farming exemptions. Citations under the new law will carry the same penalties as current safety belt violations.

Georgians understand the benefits of buckling up, slowing down and not drinking and driving. Georgia has reduced its yearly average crash deaths from over 1,600 to fewer than 1,300 in 2009 and the numbers have continued to decline in 2010. On average, that’s about one more Georgian per day who will go home safe and secure to family members instead of that family suffering the heartbreak of a traffic death.

Bob Dallas, Director

Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

Atlanta, Ga.