Put down the cell phone and step away from the car.
Georgia drivers soon will be banned from texting, checking e-mail or using the Internet behind the wheel and teens will be prohibited from using their cell phones at all while driving, under a pair of laws signed Friday by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“We’re trying to produce the best common sense legislation to make us safer,” Perdue said during a signing ceremony at his downtown Atlanta office.
The governor had hinted that he would veto the bill for adults but said he agreed to sign it only after lawmakers promised to fix problems in the legislation next year. Perdue said he is concerned the current language could pressure district attorneys to file vehicular homicide against more drivers and would put too much of a burden on police to enforce.
Under the laws, which take effect July 1, a violation leads to a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license. The teen law applies to any driver under 18.
The adult law is named for Caleb Sorohan, a Morgan County college freshman who was killed in a head-on collision last year because he was texting while driving. The family of the 18-year-old has pushed state lawmakers to pass the texting ban since his death in December.
Such bans are gaining popularity in many states. Prohibitions were enacted in Vermont, Wisconsin and Michigan this year, adding to the already two dozen states that had passed the bans.
The Illinois-based National Safety Council estimates that nearly 30 percent of crashes — or 1.6 million annually — are caused by drivers talking or texting on cell phones.
The push to address such dangerous driving practices have garnered the attention of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and organizations like the United Nations. Both launched campaigns to discourage drivers from using cell phones while behind the wheel.