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New rules regulate phone use, driving

A new state law took effect Thursday banning adults of any age from texting, emailing or using the Internet while driving. Separate legislation also forbids drivers under 18 from using a cellphone in any way while driving.

A new state law took effect Thursday banning adults of any age from texting, emailing or using the Internet while driving.

Separate legislation also forbids drivers under 18 from using a cellphone in any way while driving.

The new laws allow for fines of up to $150. Teens who use a cellphone while driving and become involved in a motor vehicle accident can be fined up to $300.

The new laws will even apply to golf carts anytime they travel on a public road or highway, said police Capt. Rosanna Dove. However, police are still researching whether the law applies to golf carts while they are traveling on the city’s cart path system.

In conjunction with the new laws, AT&T Thursday kicked off a campaign to encourage drivers to not text while driving.

The campaign features video spots that show simple text messages with voiceovers of parents whose children were killed in texting-while-driving crashes. Another emotional spot features the voice of a young man who suffered a severe brain injury in a crash related to texting and driving.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, authored the law banning all cellphone use for teenagers. At AT&T’s press conference Thursday, Ramsey quoted statistics that show adults who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to cause a motor vehicle crash than those who are not texting.

“I think this certainly moves us in the direction of making our roads a safer place to operate on,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey thanked Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for signing the bills and giving him the opportunity to address the governor’s concerns about the legislation after the assembly ended. Perdue had the option of vetoing the bill, but he elected not to and instead signed it.

Ramsey came up with the idea for the teen cellphone ban after a young driver texting behind the wheel crossed the center line of Peachtree Parkway near Booth Middle School and nearly struck his vehicle.

The teen cellphone ban prohibits any phone calls behind the wheel even if a handsfree device is used. There are a few exceptions, however, in which it is legal for a teenager to drive and use a phone:
• Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency or serious road hazard;
• Reporting a situation in which the driver believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy;
• Reporting or averting a criminal act; or
• Talking or texting on a cellphone while legally parked.

Pete Meadows of AT&T said the company is asking teens to sign a pledge that they will not text and drive. The pledges come in two different forms: a pact that teens can make with their friends and a separate document they can sign with their parents.

Also the company will be undertaking an educational campaign in schools in the fall aimed at juniors and seniors in an effort to encourage them to not text and drive.

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PTC Observer's picture

The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else. F. Bastiat

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