Last week, the South Carolina House and Senate both took steps toward a distracted driving ban by passing two different bills. Because each bill is different, lawmakers must consider which bill, if any, will become a statewide law.
The two bills propose the following:
- House Bill – The House bill creates a statewide texting and driving ban for all drivers. Drivers who violate the law would be subject to only a $25 fine and no points on their driver's license.
- Senate Bill – The Senate bill would ban all hand-held cellphone use, including text messaging. However, it would only apply to novice drivers or drivers with a restricted license. Fines for an offense would be $75.
Both bills are intended to reduce traffic accidents caused by distracted driving, which injures and kills thousands of Americans each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Still, many safety advocates and lawmakers are questioning the proposed laws, whether they will be enough, and how they will be enforced. As one WBTW article states, some lawmakers are even proposing amendments that blend the two bills, banning text messaging for all drivers and increasing fines.
A Welcomed Trend
According to the NHTSA, 43 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers. This means that South Carolina remains one of only a few states without a statewide distracted driving law. Because South Carolina has been sluggish to pass statewide legislation banning texting or handheld cellphone use behind the wheel, many cities have made the effort to pass laws of their own – and to become part of a national trend to reduce preventable auto accidents.
The trend in South Carolina, however, has been a chaotic one. Just recently, a Senate subcommittee announced its support for a proposed statewide texting ban for all drivers that included stiff penalties. Unfortunately, the bill failed to gain any steam. In response to lagging lawmakers, local cities passed their own laws, including the cities of Mt. Pleasant, Greenville and Charleston.
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, we've continually expressed our support for a statewide distracted driving ban. As more South Carolinians and cities step up to show their support for new bills, we are hopeful that state lawmakers will take note and pass a long overdue state law. Such legislation is crucial to changing attitudes about distracted driving, just as they were to increasing seat belt use years ago.
If you would like more information about distracted driving, or have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact our South Carolina personal injury legal team for a FREE consultation. Our representatives are standing by – 24/7 – to answer your questions and give you the help you need.