New Bill to Ban Texting and Driving Goes Before the SC Senate
Last year, the South Carolina legislature did not pass a bill banning texting and driving in the state. However, with the help of a safe driving campaign from AT&T, lawmakers are once again considering the dangers of texting and driving on South Carolina roads.
South Carolina is one of the few remaining states that does not have a ban on texting and driving.
Rep. Don Bowen of Anderson County sponsored the bill and has been pushing the legislation for two years.
“We tried this bill in the last session, and we got it out of the House, but it didn’t really have the legislative teeth that the bill needed,” said Bowen. He added, however, that he was more confident the bill would be passed this time around.
The state Senate has already passed a version of the bill, but Representative Phillip Owens, R- District 5, says the new version will feature tougher penalties, including a $100 fine, and two points on your license, if you are stopped while texting but no accident occurs.
If you cause an accident while texting and driving, according to the new legislation, you will get more points off your license, and face jail time, depending on the severity of the accident. If you cause serious bodily injury or death, you will face a felony charge rather than a misdemeanor – similar legislation to Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
“We’re hoping by putting the teeth back into the bill, and the awareness has become so much greater than it has in the past, that this time we won’t have the opposition that we’ve had to it,” said Bowen.
“The problem is that it’s going to require an officer that pulls you over to take your phone, and go through your phone to figure out what you were doing,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford of Richland County. “Because dialing on a cell phone and texting on a cell phone, how is the officer going to know the difference?”
Rutherford argues that the new bill’s penalties are too stiff, and that it invades personal rights.
AT&T Sponsors A Safe Driving Campaign to Show the Dangers of Texting and Driving to Lawmakers
“Texting is like watching cancer consume a loved one’s body. We can see it growing, but we don’t know how to stop it,” says Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation.
On Wednesday, February 6th, AT&T brought a simulated car and a 10-minute documentary – “The Last Text” – to the State House, so lawmakers could experience the dangers of texting and driving first-hand and see testimony from families who suffered because of dangerous, distracted driving.
“The Last Text” featured several families who spoke candidly about losing loved ones because of texting and driving.
“When they see and do things like this, they tend to not text and drive for a week or two,” says Crosby.
A survey from AT&T showed that 43% of teenagers admitted to sending a text while driving; 75% said the practice was common among their inner-circles; yet 97% agreed that texting and driving was dangerous.
“The distraction is obvious when you’re trying to text and drive at the same time, your eyes have to leave the road,” says Representative Owens.
House Bill 3121 was scheduled to go before the house for a second reading on Wednesday, February 6th. However it was moved back to committee for the time being. If the bill comes out of committee, it will have a second reading in the House before going to a vote and then to the Senate for a final vote.
Texting and Driving is Distracted Driving, And Could Soon Carry Harsh Penalties
It’s a common occurrence to see distracted drivers cruising down South Carolina roads and interstates. Whether the distraction is eating, putting on makeup, texting and driving, or even just daydreaming, the effects of distracted driving can lead to an accident, resulting in life altering and even deadly consequences.
If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in an automobile accident through no fault of their own, and you think that you are entitled to compensation, please contact the South Carolina accident attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, for a free consultation. 803.252.4800