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Cellphone ban for teen drivers fails in Georgia legislature

Like adults, teenage drivers in Georgia can use their phones while driving - as long as they use hands-free technology. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Like adults, teenage drivers in Georgia can use their phones while driving - as long as they use hands-free technology. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The legislative session is winding down, and the list of bills that aren’t going to pass is getting longer.

One of those on the list: a bill that would have prohibited teen-age drivers from using cell phones and other electronic devices behind the wheel.

Until last summer, teen drivers in Georgia were prohibited from doing just that. But that changed with last year's passage of the Hands-Free Georgia Act, which banned anyone from handling cellphones and other electronics while driving.

The new law allows motorists – including teenagers – to use phones while driving if they're using hands-free technology. The idea of treating all drivers the same was to simplify enforcement.

Safety advocates wanted the electronics ban for teenagers restored. So this year Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, introduced House Bill 113 to do that.

But Carson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that law enforcement officials didn’t want to revisit the hands-free law so soon. The bill passed a House of Representatives committee, but never got a vote in the full House.

The prospects of the law being changed in the future are unclear.

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