Among the first bills to be filed in Georgia for
consideration during the upcoming regular legislative session is one intended
to minimize cell phone use by young drivers in the state.
Sponsored by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, the bill
would make it illegal for 16- and 17-year-olds to use any cell phone while
behind the wheel. Violators would face a loss of one point on their driver's
Another bill offered by Oliver would charge individuals of
all ages with "driving while distracted" if they are talking on a phone and get
in a wreck.
The distracted driving bill would fine offenders up to $500
if they cause a wreck while talking on mobile phones. They also would face a
loss of one point on their driver's licenses.
Motorists could challenge the charge if they could prove the
call didn't contribute to the accident.
Oliver said the teen-driving measure is a step toward safer
"I think the privilege we give teenagers to drive should be
narrow given the inherent dangerousness of beginning drivers," Oliver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Using
a cell phone for even experienced drivers causes distractions. We should
attempt to eliminate those distractions for teenagers."
Currently, about 10 states forbid young drivers to use
phones while behind the wheel.
Only Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have bans on all
drivers from using hand-held phones. In 2008, California is slated to implement
its own rule that will prohibit all drivers from talking on hand-held phones
The Georgia teen cell phone bill - HB4 - and the distracted
driving bill - HB5 - will be considered once the General Assembly convenes on