The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (June 7, 2011)
By Ariel Hart

On Friday [June 4, 2011], Gov. Sonny Perdue signed two bills (SB 360, HB 23) banning texting behind the wheel and limiting cell phone use. So just what do they mean for you and your keypad?

THE YOUNG:

For drivers under 18 with instruction permits or Class D licenses, stash that phone, period. Even listening or talking to it behind the wheel is off limits.

EVERYONE:

No texting while operating a car.

WHAT’S TEXTING?

No looking at a text message, typing one or sending one. Do not touch the keypad to get or send a text; do not look at the text screen to read one. However, according to the Georgia State Patrol, adults may touch the keypad to dial a phone number.

HOW ABOUT AT RED LIGHTS?

Not even then.

WHAT IF YOU’RE PARKED?

If you’re “lawfully parked,” texting’s okay. Lawfully parked does not mean sitting at a red light, or awaiting your arrow in the turn lane, according to the state patrol.

WHAT’S THE RISK?

A $150 ticket. Not to mention, according to the National Safety Council, lives.

ANY EXCEPTIONS?

A few: Calls for reporting crimes, accidents and emergencies endangering someone’s health or safety are permitted. As are CB radios or navigation devices. Also, the bill only applies to “public roads,” so it would not be enforced in places like privately owned parking lots, said state patrol spokesman Gordy Wright.

IS IT DONE?

Nope. Perdue is afraid the texting ban goes too far. He says the part making it illegal to read a text is vague: How can a cop be sure whether an adult is looking at an incoming call or a text? Legislators have promised to take it up again next year.

IS IT ENOUGH?

Some safety advocates say no. They think talking on a cellphone is dangerous and should be illegal for adults, too, but they knew that could dim the chances of passing a bill so they didn’t press it.

THE BANS START WHEN?

July 1