South Carolina distracted driving laws: Are they enough?

South Carolina does have a distracted driving law in place, though it may not be as strict as it needs to be.

A report from The State notes that in 2015, a record-high 64 traffic fatalities in South Carolina were due to distracted driving. In 2016, there were 5,698 distracted driving-related crashes that resulted in injuries. That is a significant jump over the 4,399 such incidents that occurred in 2011.

Distracted driving takes many forms, including cellphone use such as texting or checking emails. The state does have laws in place to deter people from engaging in these behaviors while driving. However, those laws may not be enough.

The law

Under South Carolina law, no driver is permitted to text while driving. This is a primary law, which means a law enforcement officer may pull over and ticket a driver simply for spotting the behavior.

It is interesting that South Carolina is one of several states that does not allow cities and counties from enacting their own distracted driving laws. Many states enable local governments to create their own bans on mobile phone use.

Omissions

One cannot help but notice that the South Carolina law leaves out some important factors. Many states have banned the use of handheld devices completely, some even going so far as to prohibit certain drivers from using hands-free devices. South Carolina, of course, has not taken those steps.

There is good reason to prevent people from using handheld or hands-free devices. Study after study shows that even interacting with a speech-to-text system is dangerous.

For example, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study to evaluate how drivers were cognitively distracted while using a hands-free system. It found that even though drivers did not have to take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road, their brains were still significantly preoccupied.

What can be done

Clearly, even having laws in place does not prevent people from texting while driving. Preventing the behavior extends beyond the law; it ultimately comes down to driver responsibility. Experts suggest the following:

  • Raising the level of awareness of just how dangerous distracted driving is
  • Talking to young drivers about the importance of driving safety
  • Making pacts with young drivers to discourage distracted driving

Parents should be setting a good example for their children. If a child or teen sees a parent on his or her phone while driving, it may be more likely for that youth to repeat the behavior.

Distracted driving is more than just risky; it can be deadly. Anyone who has concerns about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney in South Carolina.