Georgia texting-while-driving ban having effect

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This fall marks the one-year anniversary of Georgia’s ban on texting while driving and Florida lawmakers are considering similar laws there.

State troopers say the issue of distracted driving — whether it be texting on the phone, eating, fixing hair or makeup — is still an issue. Troopers still respond to accidents in which cell phone use was a contributing factor; there has been at least one fatal crash caused by texting while driving in Southwest Georgia within the past year, said Cpl. John VanLandingham of the Georgia State Patrol’s Colquitt post.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. Twelve of those laws were enacted in 2010 alone.

Nine states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.

The 2010 Georgia law prohibits all cell phone use (hands-free and handheld) for drivers under the age of 18. It prohibits texting while driving for all drivers. Bus drivers are also prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

Alabama bans all cell phone use by novice drivers. Alabama defines novice drivers as those age 16 or 17 with an intermediate license less than 6 months.

Florida does not yet have a state law regarding cell phone use while driving; however, several bills that would create such a law have been introduced in the past year. Two bills were introduced within the last week in the Florida Senate; it would have to pass both houses before becoming law.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation distracted driving website at www.distraction.gov or the Georgia Governor’s Office for Highway Safety at www.gahighwaysafety.org.