Legislators to consider outlawing texting while driving

Published 8:05 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

Members of the Georgia Legislature may consider making it illegal for people to send or read text messages on a cell phone while they are driving.

State Rep. Amos Anderson (R-Dahlonega) has filed a bill that would strengthen Georgia’s laws, which require drivers not to engage in any actions that would distract them from driving.

It would specifically address “talking, sending, reading or listening on a wireless telecommunications device” while driving, according to the text of House Bill 945.

Email newsletter signup

According to The Dahlonega Nugget, Amerson’s bill is inspired by the grandmother of a teenager who died in a car accident believed to have been caused because he was using his cell phone.

Caleb Sorohan, an 18-year-old college student from Rutledge, Ga., was home for the Christmas holidays when his 2004 Saturn crossed the center line of a road and collided with a 2008 Toyota Sequoia, apparently without ever hitting the brakes. His cell phone was found in his lap.

Caleb had sent and received a total of six messages in the seven minutes leading up to the collision, the Dahlonega newspaper quoted a state trooper as saying.

If the bill were made a law, it would not apply to the usage of people making a call related to certain emergency situations or the usage of a cell phone by police and firefighters as part of their official duties.

The bill was just introduced on Jan. 14 and must go through several reviews and votes before it could go to a vote by the full House.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) has filed a similar bill, HB 938.

A bill that would have banned text messaging while driving was passed by the House last year but rejected by the Georgia Senate. Currently, 18 states plus the District of Columbia already have laws banning texting while driving.

The AAA Auto Club South announced this past Tuesday that it would make the proposed ban on text messaging while driving its top priority during the current session of the Georgia Legislature, according to the company’s Web site.