ATLANTA - A bill that would require hands-free cellphone use passed the state House late Wednesday night, and now moves onto the Senate.
The state House had to approve or reject the bill on crossover day, when many proposed bills have to be approved by the House or Senate for them to be considered over the final four weeks of the legislative session.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 151 to 20.
State rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) said the bill does too much to attack the problem of texting and driving. The bill would allow no cell phone use by hand, with stiff fines and points penalties with repeat offenses.
“I have no problem with more severe penalties for texting while driving,” he said. “I have a real issue with making people lawbreakers who are safely driving down a stand of road and simply talking on their telephone.”
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Georgia enacted a law nine years ago banning texting and driving. But critics say that law is unenforceable because police frequently can’t distinguish whether a driver is using a phone for calling or texting.
The bill got emotional support from the relatives of people killed in distracted driving accident.
Setzler suggested focusing a new law on texting only.
Fifteen other states have passed distracted driving laws similar to the one Setzler says Georgia should reject.