GEORGIA VIEWS

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

The Valdosta Daily Times on distracted driving:

It has been a little while since we have written about this but the problem has not gone away.

Many of you are still texting and driving.

Please put the phone down when you are behind the wheel.

Texting and driving can be fatal.

We have all been warned about the dangers.

The state of Georgia has passed laws to help prevent it.

You have heard about all the serious injuries and deaths caused by it.

Still, many of you text and drive.

We wonder, what is it going to take to get you to stop?

Georgia’s “hands free” law has been in place for a few years now and still it is quite common to see people driving down the road, phone in hand, looking down and texting away.

People continue to die on our roadways at an alarming rate and many accidents are attributed to distracted driving.

The law prohibits drivers from having a phone or stand-alone electronic device in their hands or touching any part of their body while operating a motor vehicle on Georgia roadways.

A Bluetooth speakerphone, earpiece, electronic watch or wireless headset is allowed so long as it is not being operated by the driver’s hand. The use of GPS and navigational devices are allowed but drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or supported by any part of their body. The law is designed to prevent cellphones from interfering with a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle and keep attention on the road.

The law allows drivers to use “hands-free” technology to make or receive phone calls and use GPS devices, but drivers cannot at any time use their phones to write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media and internet data. The use of voice-to-text technology is allowed, officials explained.

Also, the hands-free law prohibits drivers from watching videos as well as recording videos, though GPS navigational videos and continuously running dash cams are permitted.

You can listen to music through streaming apps on your phone, but you cannot activate their apps or change music through the phone while driving. Music streaming apps programmed and controlled through the vehicle’s radio system are allowed. Music streaming apps that also have video are not allowed since the law specifically prohibits drivers from watching videos.

Anyone still confused about what they are allowed to do when driving, you cannot have a phone in your hands or on any part of your body if you want to make or receive a phone call or use GPS. You cannot legally text, e-mail or surf the internet on your phone at all when you are driving.

Please put the phone down when behind the wheel and help keep yourself, your passengers and others on the roadway safe.

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The Daily Citizen-News on donating food:

You may have seen groups of local scouts fanned out across neighborhoods in Dalton and Whitfield County and Chatsworth and Murray County last Saturday.

Their mission: Distribute door-hangers explaining the annual Scouting for Food program, a joint service project of the local Boy Scouts and the Kiwanis Club of Dalton that began in 1987.

The scouts’ mission this Saturday: Return to those neighborhoods to collect canned foods that will help restock The Salvation Army’s food center and the shelves of other area food banks.

Scouts will be out and about between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Residents are asked to leave their food donations placed visibly in a bag or box on the front porch or near the mailbox. The donated items will then be taken to The Salvation Army food center or other church-related food banks. Along the way, Kiwanis Club of Dalton members will sort, box and label donated items, then place them on the shelves at The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army asks that perishable items, frozen items or anything in glass containers not be donated. Residents should check expiration dates on items and donate only those items that have shelf life left. You can also drop off donations at The Salvation Army food center on North Thornton Avenue.

“This annual food drive is very important to our food center each year and is a valuable source of our food that is provided to persons in need,” said Capt. Arnaldo Peña of The Salvation Army. “Our requests for food assistance do not diminish and is an ongoing service month-after-month for persons in need. The pandemic has created new outreach efforts for us, as we are able to deliver food to those in need while they quarantine at home. We are so grateful for this community effort that helps us to help so many others, and we are grateful to volunteers from Rock Bridge Community Church that help with the home deliveries.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives for over a year now, many of our neighbors are struggling financially due to reduced hours or lost jobs. Local food banks have experienced an uptick in people needing help, and the pandemic has impacted donations and food drives.

Scouting for Food is a simple way to help those in our community who are in need. Please participate if you are able.

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The Brunswick News on rising sea levels and community flood zones:

City and county officials who are responsible for planning for the future of Brunswick and the Golden Isles are urged to heed the warnings and advice of experts. It’s time for them to increase their focus, energy and efforts on an issue that most other communities bounded by an ocean or a river or both began taking seriously years ago.

It’s time to face these two facts: the climate is changing and producing more catastrophic events in the United States and worldwide, as the Golden Isles has experienced itself in recent years; the polar ice caps are melting resulting in rising seas, an undeniable phenomenon causing problems for property owners and motorists across the county. Here’s another harsh reality: property owners in communities in flood zones that do the least to prepare for rising seas will pay the most for federally subsidized flood insurance.

Politicians everywhere continue to growl and hiss over theories of what’s behind climate change. Many pooh-pooh claims that industrialized nations are causing or accelerating it. Some dismiss warnings that it’s even happening. Others believe it is entirely cyclic and cannot be altered by science.

What gets lost in all the contentious babble is the fact that oceans are indeed rising and communities are flooding. Ocean creep is real, and unless Brunswick and Glynn County commissioners get to work, more property owners are going to experience losses due to flooding followed by unaffordable insurance rates.

In today’s newspaper is the second of a two-part series on sea rise. Information includes what some communities are actually doing to protect property and people. While it seems like Brunswick and Glynn County are idling in the planning stage, officials elsewhere are aggressively pursuing state and federal funds to elevate main arteries that flood and add features to their landscapes to bolster defenses.

Among those actively engaging in a defensive strategy is Tybee Island. And as Rep. Buddy Carter notes in today’s article, owners of residential and commercial property on the island have saved a bundle. Taxpayers have collectively saved “millions of dollars,” Rep. Carter points out.

Other cities and counties can do the same. Instead of poor-mouthing about being unable to afford this or that, they can do what Tybee Island and others have done and are still doing. They can apply for grants available through government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding of worthwhile flood-protection projects.

People have a lot invested in their homes and properties in Brunswick and Glynn County. It would be a shame to just sit back and watch it wash away.