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Bill could ban texting while driving
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Forsyth County News
Jack Murphy is saying CU L8R, or see you later, to text messaging.

The District 27 state senator from Cumming has authored a bill banning all non-vocal cell phone use while driving, including text messaging.

“It’s a shame that we have to have a law,” said Murphy. “People should have enough sense to do this without a law.

“I don’t like mandating ... and the government telling you what to do and what not to do any more than anyone else does, but in this case, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Murphy is not alone. Already, 19 other states have enacted a ban on texting while driving, and several others are working toward similar measures.

Though inspired by a Dahlonega teenager who died as a result of texting while driving, Murphy’s bill isn’t just for young drivers.

“My bill started out just to ban teenage texting, but as we went on, we got more feedback from constituents saying, ‘Hey, why doesn’t this apply to adults?’” Murphy said.

“The bill is to educate, just like when the seatbelt use law first started.”

Several bills dealing with texting have floated at the state capitol, but Murphy’s has gained the most traction. While others have high fees or ban cell phones altogether, Senate Bill 360 imposes a fine of up to $150 and still allows people to use their phones to talk.

“We didn’t want to make it punitive for people,” he said. “I want this to send a message that it’s against the law to text while driving in Georgia.”

If the bill passes in the House, motorists sending and receiving text messages will be charged with “driving while distracted,” which also applies to those putting on makeup, reading or any other activity preventing “safe operation” of a vehicle. Listening to the radio and talking on cell phones are not considered distracting activities.  

The bill does have an additional measure strictly for teenage drivers. If they are caught driving while distracted a second time in a year, they must wait a full year to earn their class C driver’s license.

“There’s going to be 5,000 teenagers killed this year for driving while texting. This needs to send an important message to parents and teenagers,” Murphy said. “I think it’s probably one of the most important pieces of legislation that I have ever gotten through.”