Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of preventable auto collisions, injuries, and fatalities throughout the nation. Although any form of distracted driving can be dangerous and negligent, text messaging is considered the most alarming because it commands a driver's visual, manual, and cognitive attention simultaneously. Because texting behind the wheel places others on public roads at increased risks of suffering harm, numerous states across the country have enacted texting-while-driving bans. Today, a total of 41 states and Washington, DC ban text messaging for all drivers. South Carolina remains one of the few states without a texting ban – at least for now.
On Thursday, February 20, a state Senate subcommittee announced its support for a statewide texting ban in response to issues involving local municipalities enforcing bans within their own jurisdictions. The proposed bill – S. 416A – would ban text messaging for all South Carolina drivers and subject them to the following penalties:
- First Offense – A first offense would subject drivers to a fine of $100, up to 30 days in jail, and two points on their driver's license.
- Second Offense – Drivers convicted of a second texting while driving offense would be subject to a fine of $500 dollars, possible jail time, and four points on their driver's license – a penalty that could result in a significant increase in insurance premiums.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
The proposed penalties for texting while driving are aggressive and a clear indicator of sweeping efforts to stamp out preventable traffic crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving – including texting behind the wheel – claimed the lives of more than 3,300 Americans in 2012. Text messaging remains one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities on public roadways, as it increases crash risks by as much as 23 times, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Many South Carolina residents, lawmakers, and safety advocates have long been in support of a statewide ban. Unfortunately, their efforts have continually failed. In response, local jurisdictions across the state have enacted their own bans. By passing statewide legislation, officials say, these laws would be better enforced and would increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. A state ban would also take precedent over local laws.
The Rights of Injured Victims
State lawmakers will continue to hash out details regarding the ban, penalties, and enforcement efforts as the bill moves forward. While the law can potentially help injured auto accident victims in the future establish clear fault and liability, those injured in collisions caused by texting and distracted drivers before the bill becomes law still have rights to pursue a recovery of their damages.
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, our South Carolina car accident lawyers can help injured victims and families assert their rights by filing a personal injury claim. Our legal team handles these cases diligently, and will work toward proving that a texting driver's negligence more likely than not caused victims harm. Our goals, as with any case we handle, are to fight for the justice and compensation our clients rightfully deserve.
If you or your loved one has recently been injured in a traffic crash that was caused by a driver who was texting or distracted at the time, allow a member of our legal team to review your case and inform you of your right to compensation. For a FREE case review, call 888-612-7001.