Just in time to save lives during the busy summer holiday travel period, Gov. Sonny Perdue has signed three highway safety measures that will become the rules of the road on Georgia’s streets and interstates: the teen cell phone use while driving ban, the all driver texting while driving ban, and the pickup truck safety belt law.
The state legislature, working with state and local law enforcement agencies and public safety advocates, came together to develop these life saving initiatives. This coordinated effort culminated in two bills prohibiting texting while driving and another requiring pickup truck occupants to buckle up. All three bills were passed during Georgia’s 2010 legislative session and then signed into law by Gov. Perdue.
The Teen Cell Phone Driving Ban prohibits drivers under the age of 18 with a Class D license from talking on cell phones and texting while driving. Taking effect on July 1, penalties under this new law include a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license. In addition, monetary fines will be doubled for teen drivers proven to have violated the law at the time of a traffic crash.
The Texting While Driving Ban, which also goes into effect on July 1, applies to all drivers 18 and older who possess a Class C driver’s license. Under this new law, drivers cannot write, send or read a text message, e-mail or use the Internet on any wireless device while driving. Penalties under this new law also include a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license.
The Pickup Truck Safety Belt law is in effect since it was signed by Gov. Perdue on June 3. The new law requires both drivers and passengers of pickup trucks to buckle-up in their vehicles except for certain farming exemptions. Citations under the new law will carry the same penalties as current safety belt violations.
“Making Georgia Safer” has been a cornerstone commitment from Gov. Perdue to the people of Georgia. During his terms of office, Georgia has enacted traffic safety measures that increased funding for trauma care, closed loopholes in DUI laws, required the use of child booster seats, funded driver education, slowed excessive speeding with the ground breaking Super Speeder Law, implemented the Move Over Law and expanded the Steer It and Clear It law. The lineup and diversity of groups united in the task of keeping Georgians alive on our roadways is impressive: from local public health districts and schools on every level, to community organizations such as MADD, Safe Kids, AARP and PEDS. It included law enforcement leaders across the state from Georgia State Patrol to police chiefs to sheriffs. Together their message was clear: Too many lives are being lost unnecessarily on our roads. And their goal was the same: “Together we can stop these daily tragedies.”
Most importantly, Georgia’s motoring public has taken the lead to improve their driving behavior by embracing these laws and engaging in other driving best practices. Georgians understand the benefits of buckling up, slowing down and not drinking and driving. By engaging in these simple steps and taking care to share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles, Georgia drivers are making sure that their families, friends and neighbors are making it home safely every day and night.
Our state highway safety data show these measures have produced impressive results: Georgia has reduced its yearly average crash deaths from over 1,600 to fewer than 1,300 in 2009 and the numbers have continued to decline in 2010. On average, that’s about one more Georgian per day who will go home safe and secure to family members instead of that family suffering the heartbreak of a traffic death.
And that’s also what we hope these newest safety laws will continue to do: save lives on Georgia roadways. Because it’s not about writing tickets and it’s not about generating revenue; it’s about saving lives.
For more information and the exact wording of each of these new laws visit us at www.gahighwaysafety.org.
Bob Dallas, Director
Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety