Greenville takes aim at distracted drivers

Greenville, South Carolina has passed an ordinance banning texting and the use of some cellphones while behind the wheel.

When driving down the highway or around town, you may have noticed cars weaving in and out of their lanes or perhaps running red lights. In many cases, once you have pulled alongside the vehicle, you may have looked over and noticed that the driver is not watching the road. Instead, you may see that the driver is looking at a cellphone screen because he or she is busy reading or replying to a text message.

Unfortunately, such a scenario is not a rare one in today's connected world. According to distraction.gov, about 660,000 people are using their cellphones to talk or text at any given daylight moment in the United States. Despite the well-publicized fact that performing visual-manual tasks while driving such as texting triples the risk of a car accident (according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute), many people seemingly cannot wait until they have arrived at their destinations to catch up on their missed texts.

Greenville responds

The problems that distracted drivers cause other motorists have caught the attention of the leaders of Greenville, South Carolina. Although the state does not have any restrictions on the use of cellphones or other devices while behind the wheel, Greenville City Council members recently decided to take measures of their own by enacting a distracted driving ordinance.

The ordinance, which is now in effect for drivers within city limits, prohibits the use of hand-held mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion or stopped (unless legally parked). Additionally the ordinance also makes texting while driving illegal, unless the phone is mounted or the car is parked legally. Members of law enforcement and first responders (while they are on duty) as well as drivers reporting an emergency are exempt from the ban.

Under the ordinance, police officers may pull offending drivers over and issue them a warning or citation. First-time offenders face a penalty of $100 fine plus court costs. Repeat offenders can face fines of $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third offense. Additionally a third-time offender can have his or her cellphone or device confiscated by the court.

In order to remind motorists of the ordinance, officials have posted more than 30 signs at the entrances to the city.

Speak to an attorney

Although a $100 fine does not sound like it would much of a deterrent, drivers that violate the ordinance and cause an accident may also face a personal injury lawsuit. Under the law, violation of the ordinance (among other things) may be used to prove negligence on the part of the driver. If found guilty, the driver may be held liable for the injured party's medical bills, wage losses and other losses suffered as a result of the negligent act.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by driver distraction, an experienced personal injury attorney can elaborate further on your legal right to recover compensation.

Keywords: car accidents, distracted driving,