Is There a Message for South Carolina in Charleston’s Texting While Driving Ban?

In early October, Charleston followed the path of a growing number of smaller South Carolina towns and cities. Charleston put in place its own distracted driving law banning drivers from sending and reading text messages.

But Charleston’s law is broader than many. The Charleston law applies to people driving not only cars and trucks, but bicycles, golf carts, skateboards, mopeds and rickshaws as well. Yes, even skateboards. The city made it against the law for drivers to view, take or transmit images, play games or compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save or retrieve email or texts.

The underlying message of Charleston’s law is that drivers of any kind of vehicle should not be handling mobile devices. They should be paying attention to the road. That makes sense.

Municipal Actions May Prod Lawmakers

Across the country, 44 states have laws that make text messaging illegal. South Carolina is among a handful of states that have not addressed the problem. In 2013, at least 10 distracted driving bills were brought before the state legislature. Each one failed to pass.

It would make sense for South Carolina to have a consistent, statewide ban on texting while driving.

As more and more cities and towns across the Palmetto State devise their own laws against distracted driving, a state ban on texting while driving may become more politically acceptable and easier to pass. Currently, 13 cities in the state have addressed texting while driving. Among them are Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Columbia, Clemson, Hilton Head, Greenwood, Camden and Charleston.

Statewide Legislation

South Carolina lawmakers have argued that it would be difficult to enforce such a statewide law. They believe police officers may encounter difficulty figuring out whether an individual is texting at the wheel.

However, it can be argued that seatbelt laws are similar to bans on text messaging. Furthermore, seatbelt laws are both enforceable and save lives. So it’s logical to assume that a state law against texting would also serve the general public in much the same way.

There is hope for the future, however. Senator Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach, filed Senate Bill 186 in January, which proposes that fatal accidents caused by distracted driving be treated as felonies. That reflects a changing view of the seriousness of the danger of texting while driving.

The legislation also calls for drivers to be charged with reckless vehicular homicide when mobile devices are determined to be a factor in a collision within three years of the accident. It is possible that the General Assembly will consider Rankin’s proposal when it reconvenes in January.

Need Legal Help?

Car accidents often happen without any warning and may result in serious injuries or even death, especially if a driver is not paying attention to the road. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a South Carolina automobile accident because of somebody else’s negligence, contact our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm.

Call (888) 324-3100 or use our online form so our attorneys can offer you advice about your rights.

Source: Post and Courier