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Feds ban truck and bus drivers from texting

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would ban drivers of commercial vehicles from using their cell phone to send text messages while driving, effective immediately.

Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting. Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers, the report stated.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws banning any driver from texting while their vehicle is in motion. The state legislatures of Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Georgia are currently considering proposed legislation that would place a ban on texting while driving.

Guns reported stolen

Several Decatur County residents have reported having guns taken from their homes in recent weeks.

On Jan. 24, a resident of the 500 block of Old Pelham Road reported somone broke out the passenger side window of his truck and took a Colt double-barrelled pistol and ammunition from inside.

Residents of Amsterdam Road reported a youth-model rifle was taken sometime on Jan. 23.

A resident of Alday Road reported someone burglarized their mobile home sometime between Jan. 15 and Jan. 23. Among the items taken were two shotguns, seven rifles, two knives, a watch and assorted ammunition.

Anyone with more information on any of these property thefts should contact investigators at the Sheriff’s Office by calling 248-3044.

Fire weather warning issued

A fire weather watch will be in effect on Wednesday afternoon for Southwest Georgia due to possible long durations of low relative humidity, according to the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office.

Residents of Bainbridge should call 248-2032 to obtain a fire permit, which are valid during daytime hours only.

Residents of unincorporated Decatur County can obtain burn permits by calling the Georgia Forestry Commission’s burn permit hotline at 1-877-OK2-BURN or visiting www.gatrees.org online.