Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Even Writers of 'No Text, Drive' Bills Guilty; Possible Bills Are under Review but Popularity of the Practice Is a Factor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Even Writers of 'No Text, Drive' Bills Guilty; Possible Bills Are under Review but Popularity of the Practice Is a Factor

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - The growing number of accidents attributed to texting while driving illustrates two trends that clash when legislators consider outlawing the practice.

The first trend is the evident popularity of texting. The other is the danger.

Lawmakers aiming for re-election generally shy away from bills that halt a popular activity, but at the same time they have received a flood of comments from people who support the restriction.

So popular is texting that in a hearing Wednesday on two of the bills pending in the House, both one of the authors and the head of the Georgia Chiefs of Police Association each admitted to thumb-typing messages with one hand while steering with the other.

"I will tell you I am an expert at texting while driving," said Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

Several bills have been filed in the General Assembly:

- House Bill 23: Prohibits drivers younger than 18 from texting or making cell phone calls while on a public road; exempts messages for emergencies and emergency personnel; assesses two points against the driver's record; imposes a 90-day suspension of license for the first offense, six months for additional offenses. Sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, this is the only texting bill to have passed one chamber after the House approved it last year and the Senate Public Safety Committee recommended its passage.

- HB 938: Same definitions and exemptions as HB23 but without an age restriction; assesses two points against the driver's record; imposes a 90-day suspension of license for the first offense, six months for additional offenses; sponsored by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.

- HB 944: Prohibits use of cell phone, laptop or texting while operating a vehicle on a public road; $300 fine; sponsored by Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega. …

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