A tragic accident last December has led to a state law that the victim’s family hopes will help save other families from their pain.
Gov. Sonny Perdue signed two new laws Friday, one that bans texting while driving and another prohibiting teens from using their cell phones while behind the wheel.
Under the laws, which take effect July 1, a violation leads to a $150 fine and one point on the driver’s license.
“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 adult law is named for Caleb Sorohan, who was killed in a head-on collision Dec. 16 because he was texting while driving.
Sallie Sorohan of Dahlonega, who started the campaign for a texting law a month after her grandson’s crash, said Friday she was “very pleased that the governor decided to sign it.”
“We wanted this law to act as a deterrent,” she said. “It took a lot of people and a lot of work to get this done.”
Sorohan’s grandson was an 18-year-old freshman at North Georgia College & State University when he died in a crash while texting near his hometown of Rutledge.
“He was quite young when he died, and just really starting life,” Sorohan said. “I think this will be a great legacy for him if it helps to save others from death and injury.”
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, 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.
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.
“We have witnessed the devastation of texting while driving on Georgia highways and across the nation. Caleb’s Law will maintain safety on our roads and save the lives of many Georgians,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming. “This bill will have a positive impact on generations to come and I commend the governor and my fellow legislators for making public safety a top priority.”
Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega, introduced the bill in the state legislature.