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South Carolina texting bill faces rough road

Text messaging while driving is distracting and dangerous. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to be injured in a car accident according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The NHTSA also reports that texting distracts a driver from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds which is equivalent to driving the length of a football at 55 miles-per-hour while blind.

South Carolina is among the 39 states that outlawed texting while driving. However, Senator Shane Massey is supporting a measure, proposed bill 3121, which would strengthen this law. If enacted, the measure would classify driving while texting and other distracted driving as a misdemeanor with a $200 fine and two-point penalty on driving records. For fatal accidents caused by texting, punishment could be increased to 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Bill passage is hampered by groups have argued that the bill is too restrictive and other parties who claim that the measure does not go far enough. Some groups also want to outlaw other distractions such as using the cell phone or putting on makeup while driving.

Victims of an auto crash caused by a distracted driver or a driver who violated traffic laws may be entitled to compensation for their injuries or loss. A civil lawsuit may seek reimbursement for medical treatment, wages and other losses. Family members may seek payment through a wrongful death action where a relative is killed in a car crash. An accident investigation should begin promptly to obtain evidence and because time periods limit the filing of a lawsuit.

Source: WJBF, "South Carolina texting while driving law hits a red light," Courtney Elledge, March 2, 2013

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