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South Carolina lawmakers consider texting traffic citation bills

South Carolina is one of just two states that does not have any laws limiting the use of mobile technology while driving. Now, an initiative that would lead to a statewide texting ban or motorists in South Carolina is gaining additional traction with the support of the state's beauty queens. Miss South Carolina 2013 has visited the state legislature to publicize her pledge to avoid texting while driving. That woman, Brooke Mosteller, is also actively promoting a statewide texting ban.

Just because the state has been largely silent about cellphone bans does not mean that individual regions have not passed their own measures. It is possible to receive a traffic citation for cellphone use in municipalities including Greenville, Charleston and Columbia. Although these jurisdictions' attempts are laudable, some advocates say it makes more sense to institute a statewide ban instead of requiring drivers to keep track of the law during the course of a car ride.

The laws governing texting in South Carolina are currently a patchwork. Some areas restrict talking on the phone entirely, while others allow certain actions such as texting while stopped at a light. The mandate up for consideration in the legislature at this time would make it a traffic violation for beginning and restricted drivers to use electronic devices behind the wheel. More experienced drivers would also be precluded from using their phones in school zones. That measure is being considered in the Senate. The House has already passed a wider-reaching bill that would only allow phone use with hands-free devices, in an emergency or while stopped.

Although the law purports to take a hard line on distracted driving, the penalties for this type of traffic violation would be very lenient. Violators would only be fined a maximum of $50. Officers must also have an unobstructed view of the driver in order to prove that the individual was texting while driving. These bans ostensibly crack down on texting behavior, but their consequences are actually quite mild.

Source: Rock Hill Herald, "Statewide texting ban in SC gains momentum, ‘sparkle’" Jamie Self, May. 07, 2014

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