Texting while driving now illegal

Published 7:10 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Starting Thursday, it will be illegal in Georgia to send a text message or e-mail while driving, one of several new laws taking effect on July 1, which is Thursday.

The new laws prohibit anyone, regardless of age, from sending or receiving text messages while driving. Using a phone or other electronic device to send or receive e-mail while driving is also now illegal. People who ignore the ban can receive a $150 fine and one point on their driver’s license.

Additionally, it’s now against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to use a cell phone for any reason while driving.

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While some have questioned how the new laws against texting behind the wheel will be enforced, Georgia State Patrol officers will be among the officers on the lookout for the potentially dangerous activity.

Educating drivers on the new law will be state troopers’ initial focus, Major Mark McDonough, commanding officer of the State Patrol, told Georgia Public Radio. There will be a one-month grace period before tickets are handed out, McDonough said.

Also starting July 1, anyone driving a pickup truck will now have to wear their seat belt.

Front seat passengers in cars and trucks have always been required to wear seat belts. Children ages 6 through 17 have to wear their seat belts wherever they sit in a vehicle, while children under 6 must be in a child safety seat.

For more information on the pickup truck law, interested persons may visit http://www.gahighwaysafety.org/pickuptrucksafety/

A couple of the new laws apply to disabled persons. Parents or guardians who are disabled, and have had a driver’s license in the past, can now accompany a student driver for purposes of legal driver’s education.

Families with disabled loved ones will no longer have to hire a registered nurse to perform some routine health procedures, provided someone designated by the patient as a “proxy caregiver” receives the proper training from a registered nurse, doctor or physician’s assistant. The law states such procedures can include “those activities that, but for a disability, a person could reasonably be expected to do for himself or herself.”