Deal rolls behind distracted driving bill with a dash of roadside humor

‘Just watch out, Sandra and I are going to be on the roads before too terribly long.’

The question to Gov. Nathan Deal came near the end of a brief session with reporters: Has the second-term incumbent pictured what it would be like to join the masses of motorists again, and would that influence his decision on a measure to crackdown on distracted driving?

The governor has already endorsed a measure that would ban drivers from handling their cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. But he revealed that – after about eight years of being whisked around by a security detail – he's a bit nervous about hitting the roads himself again.

“Sandra and I have had several conversations about the fact that since we haven’t driven for eight years, that we’re going to be a danger on the highway even without the issue of distracted driving with devices,” he said.

Georgia already prohibits texting while driving and bans drivers under 18 from using wireless devices behind the wheel. But public safety advocates say the ban is largely unenforceable and that stiffer restrictions are needed to stem a surge in traffic fatalities.

Deal said that “safety of our citizens” demands the new crackdown, and that technology improvements make it easier for drivers to abandon holding their phones. He urged lawmakers to reach an accord over the bill, which was still pending late Thursday.

Then he added, chuckling:

“Just watch out, Sandra and I are going to be on the roads before too terribly long. If you see us coming, you might want to pull over to the side.”

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