South Carolina, like many states, is beginning to realize that their laws on texting and driving are weak at best. However, South Carolina is taking steps to change that thanks to a bill introduced by State Representative Bill Taylor who is quoted as saying that the current law is “almost worthless.”
Taylor posted the following statement on his website: “-Today I introduced legislation that advances South Carolina’s weak texting law and says to those who would put your life in danger that there is a price to pay for their electronic addiction and potentially dangerous and deadly behavior.”
The introduced legislation increases the fines for offenders. But, it goes a step further by prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving. Thus, a cell phone cannot be in your hand while you are driving nor can you text while at a stoplight. I agree with both. Too many times I have had a car slide into my lane because the driver has their cell phone pressed against their left check, blocking their view with the left-hand side mirror.
In addition, drivers know they could always use the excuse they were going through their contacts list in order to make a phone call. Perfectly legal and impossible to prove otherwise. And if a driver is at a traffic light, when that light turns green, I’m sure they will complete the text, even if that means that their vehicle is moving.
Prohibiting drivers from using hand-held cellphones entirely, already exists in multiple states and jurisdictions which includes D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In South Carolina, the penalty for texting and driving is $25 for the first offense and $50 for a second offense. Hardly a deterrent. With Taylor’s proposed legislation, fines would increase to $100 and $300 respectively. I say start with $300 and double it each time after that.
The issue with South Carolina’s texting and driving law is the same as with other states and municipalities. At times, a county or municipality has a much more stricter law, but when the law is passed statewide, it overrules the laws in municipalities. Even a town near me in Miami had a hands-free use of cell phones law while driving until Florida passed it’s own version of one of the weakest texting and driving laws in the United States. Certain jurisdictions within South Carolina already had strict fines and penalties, including the possibility of misdemeanor charges, but passage of the state law changed all that.
As to myself, I have made clear my stance on texting and driving. I not only advocate strict penalties, but I am also in agreement with hands-free use as well as distracted driving statutes. While everyone is focused on the use of cell phones, distracted driving in itself is a serious issues. I have said many times before, without distracted driving statutes, I can read a novel while driving at sixty miles per hour and still be in compliance with the law.