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Buckle Up, It's Finally The Law In Georgia

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We understand that it's difficult for legislators to deal with some of the wacky laws still on the books. You're not allowed to slurp your soup in one New Jersey town, and drivers are (technically) still required to dismantle their car and hide it in the bushes if they see an oncoming horse and buggy.

In most cases, these laws simply aren't enforced. In the case of Georgia, however, a loophole existed that kept law enforcement officers from writing up pick-up truck occupants for riding without a seatbelt. Along with many other changes to driving laws that will affect the curricula of traffic schools, this may be the biggest.

It comes from an understanding of many legislators in years past that a lot of pickup trucks are used for farm work, and they remain driven at low speeds on agricultural land. The growing use of pickups by construction workers and the general public led to the changing of the law, although farmers still retain the exemption.

Like many other legislative bodies, Peach State representatives have also banned texting while driving for all motorists, and all cell phone use by teenagers. Any use of a mobile device for texting, messaging or web-based services carries a $150 fine and a point for the license, provided it's signed into law by Governor Sonny Perdue.

The same penalty exists for under-18 drivers who are using their cell phone for any purpose. As some states have done, Georgia has added an "aggravation" multiplier to the fine: if the violation occurs at the time of an accident, it'll cost $300 to pay the bill.

While law enforcement agencies in multiple states have admitted that it can be difficult to catch motorists who text and drive in the act, Georgia has one well-known celebrity on its side: Oprah Winfrey recently held a taping of her show at Georgia Tech's campus in Atlanta to highlight her "No Phone Zone" campaign.

Although the bills still need to be signed into law by Perdue, and wouldn't take effect until July 1, drivers should know from statistics that choosing to operate a handheld device while driving is less than safe, and according to some studies is worse even than driving while intoxicated from alcohol.

"If you think of it in terms of how many feet you travel in one second in your car- you're driving 60 miles per hour, you travel 82 feet per second, or you look away from the roadway to text, or to read a text a couple of seconds. You've traveled a great distance," Lieutenant Steve Jones of the Thomas County Sheriff's Office told WCTV.

Getting an early start is likely to get good habits in order and eliminate the need to go to online traffic school to reduce points. Consider the rain storms that have pummeled the northern section of the state, it could also help keep drivers focused on making their way through the slick and slippery roads. In fact, in the Atlanta metro area, flash flood warnings and fast moving water were reported.