Possible cell phone ban while driving gets lukewarm response in Georgia

7:39 PM, Jan 28, 2013   |    comments
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  • Georgia State Representative Rahn Mayo (D-Decatur)
  • Georgia State Senator Jack Murphy (R-Forsyth County)

ATLANTA -- A Georgia lawmaker's bill to outlaw handheld cell phones behind the wheel is getting a cold shoulder at the State Capitol.

State Representative Rahn Mayo (D-Decatur) doesn't have any firm statistics yet, but believes his House Bill 31 could help prevent one of the leading distractions that cause accidents.

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"It's certainly going to change the behavior of drivers and create a deterrent so that they're less likely, much less likely to use that cell phone in the car," Mayo claims.

Georgia's state legislature banned texting while driving for all motorists and all cell phone use behind the wheel for anyone under 18 in 2010.

But Rep. Mayo is fighting an uphill battle for any tougher laws in a conservative General Assembly.

"Talking on cell phones, they felt like that's a personal privilege to them and that we were going a little bit too far to ban that," State Senator Jack Murphy (R-Forsyth County) told 11 Alive on Monday.

As one of the main sponsors of the 2010 texting and driving ban, Murphy doesn't think tougher laws would be welcome.

He and other lawmakers believe ever evolving technology, like hands free devices readily available in newer cars, will soon turn it into a non-issue.

State Representative Allen Peake (R-Macon) also helped push through the 2010 texting ban.

He told 11 Alive there is "no appetite" for any stricter laws in the House right now.

The 11Alive Help Desk compiled a list, per the Governors Highway Safety Association, of other states that currently have a handheld cell phone ban while driving.

Drivers are only allowed to use hands-free communications devices in the following states and Washington, D.C.:

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington.

Additionally, the following states and Washington, D.C., ban text messaging for all drivers:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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