New laws implemented effect Jan. 1

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 12/30/17

Sixteen new laws will go into effect Monday, and three deal with traffic issues that will be enforced by the Cleveland Police Department and Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

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New laws implemented effect Jan. 1

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Sixteen new laws will go into effect Monday, and three deal with traffic issues that will be enforced by the Cleveland Police Department and Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the most important of these new laws will be the use of handheld cell phones in school zones will be prohibited. Should someone be charged with the Class C misdemeanor, the driver could face a fine of up to $50.

“Recent studies have found that one in six drivers who drive in school zones are distracted – with the most common distraction being cellphones,” noted Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson. “Our agency’s School Resource Officers along with the Patrol Division will heavily enforce this new law in order to curb school zone distractions.”

Watson said it is important for parents to inform their teen drivers that the use of a cellphone for any driver under the age of 18 in a school zone is illegal, and drivers who are 18 years of age or older must use a hands free device in a school zone.

“This new law has been implemented to primarily protect children,” the sheriff said. “We urge residents to adhere to the restrictions in all school zones. Hitting a child with a vehicle is something you’ll never get over, especially when it could have been avoided.

Cleveland Police Chief Mark Gibson said the new laws have been created to help public safety, especially in the school zones.

“We will work to continue to help educate our community and bring awareness to these new laws,” Gibson said.

A second new law will have all new school bus drivers  complete a training program prior to transporting students. Drivers have to be at least 25 years of age or older to receive an initial school bus driver license endorsement.

“Many parents within our community’s school systems depend on bus transportation to safely commute their children back and forth from school,” Watson said. “Many requirements have been put into place to ensure the safety of students while at school; however this new law will now give parents additional assurance that children are also safe while riding a school bus.”

The third of the new laws dealing with traffic safety is that all headlights must be either white or amber, and not any other color, and each vehicle must have two headlights and no more than four headlights.

Both Gibson and Watson said there are vehicles  authorized to have colored lights, such as first responders, but other vehicles having colored headlights causes confusion to law enforcement when responding to an emergency call.

“The new law that now prohibits the display of colored lights will help alleviate the confusion of a private vehicle being mistaken as a first-responder vehicle,” the sheriff said. “Additionally, the headlight requirement set forth in the new law ensures that all vehicles on roadways are readily equipped to adjust to inclement weather such as rain and snow, in addition to roadways that have low visibility due to poor lighting.”

Each of the new laws were approved to make sure motorists, pedestrians and others are safe.

“Public safety is our key priority,” said Gibson. “Our focus is to enforce these new changes, but that doesn’t always involve writing a citation. We seek to educate our citizens by working with the public to make others aware of new laws that are implemented to ensure safety.

“We encourage our citizens to keep themselves informed of new laws and work alongside the Cleveland Police Department so, together, we can keep our city and its citizens safe,” the police chief stressed.

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